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Parisians say au revoir to shared e-scooters

89% of citizens want them gone – at least among the 7.46% who showed up to vote

Citizens of Paris voted on Sunday to ban e-scooters from the City of Love, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo responded by promising that the fleets of rechargeable rentables would be gone come September.

The outcome was overwhelming, with 89 percent of votes cast in favor of the ban, though only 103,084 of Paris's 1,382,322 registered voters participated – around 7.5 percent. In a summary of the vote, the Parisian government noted that the final decision on the ban fell to city officials, who didn't appear to plan on countermanding the non-binding outcome.

"This evening, the Parisians who spoke overwhelmingly spoke out against self-service scooters. Their very clear message now becomes our roadmap. With my team, we will follow through on their decision as I promised," Hidalgo said.

Only three companies are currently authorized to operate electric scooter fleets in Paris – Lime, Dott and Tier – which were granted three-year contracts in 2020 after Parisians voiced their dissatisfaction with a 2018 rollout in the city. Per Paris's government, the public domain occupancy agreements the three operators have all end on August 31, and it seems Hidalgo doesn't plan to renew them.

Lime and Tier both told The Register they would be ceasing operations in Paris come September 1, though Tier did note its shared e-bike service would still be available in the city.

Both companies expressed disappointment at the outcome, but pointed to the fact that the low voter turnout meant the results weren't representative of the city's entire population. "With approximately 93 percent of citizens not going to the polls, a large majority of Parisians have shown that e-scooters are not an issue," a Tier spokesperson said.

"We acknowledge the result of this unprecedented referendum, which was heavily impacted by very restrictive voting methods. This led to an extremely low turnout, heavily skewed towards older age groups, which has widened the gap between pros and cons," said a spokesperson for Lime.

Lime's response came from a third-party PR firm who said the statement represented a position "shared by Dott, Lime and Tier and not Lime speaking for the industry."

Safety not guaranteed

Since they started showing up on city streets in 2017, rentable electric scooters have divided public opinion, but one thing is pretty clear: their riders haven't been the most safety-conscious

A 2021 paper examining accident rates in Austin, Texas, found that e-scooter injury rates were approximately 175 to 200 times higher than other forms of motor vehicle travel based on vehicle miles traveled. Another report that looked at e-scooter accidents in Los Angeles found similarly that e-scooter injury rates in the City of Angels exceeded national motorcycle accident rates.

In a late 2022 report on e-scooter accidents, the UK's Department for Transport found that e-scooter collision volumes have continued to climb, as have casualty and fatality rates.

But the e-scooter companies operating in Paris told us the vote meant the French capital was taking a step backwards in environmental sustainability by banning the vehicles. "The result of this vote will have a direct impact on the travel of 400,000 people per month, 71 percent of whom are 18 to 35-year-old residents," the Lime spokesperson told us. 

At least one study has found that shared e-scooters were responsible for more pollution than electric bikes, motorcycles and even electric cars under similar operating circumstances. ®

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