Paris votes to ban e-scooter rentals

It was a landslide at 89 percent, but voter turnout was low.

Photo by Steve Dent/Engadget

Paris residents have dealt a blow to e-scooter rental companies Lime, Tier and Dott, voting in an 89 percent landslide to ban "trotinettes" from streets amid low voter turnout, France 24 has reported. The French capital will likely become the second European city after Barcelona to prohibit the devices, as mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised to respect the referendum. Any ban won't affect e-bikes or privately-owned scooters.

Following a messy launch in 2018, Paris introduced strict rules and reduced the number of rental companies from around 20 to just three. A spate of accidents ensued including a 2021 fatality, prodding the city to introduce new rules like a 10 km/h (6 MPH) speed limit in designated zones and fines for for not using dedicated parking. However, residents continued to complain about dangerous operation and devices strewn on city sidewalks.

Only eight percent of city dwellers voted, and that group appeared to skew away from younger people more likely to use the devices. "In the double queue here, a majority of 50+ and parents with toddlers," tweeted journalist Agnes Poirier. "Incapable of regulating their use, the City of Paris is just leaving it to its inhabitants in an all or nothing alternative."

The move may be welcomed by some, but it goes against Hidalgo's initiatives to make Paris less polluted and dependent on cars. As part of a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050, the city has vowed to phase out ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles by 2030, plant up to 170,000 trees, install electric chargers for EVs and promote e-mobility, including e-bikes and, at one time, e-scooters.

The city has since changed its tune on the latter, though. It noted that the scooters were mostly replacing walking or public transport rather than cars or taxi trips, so weren't achieving the goal of reducing vehicle use. "They’re honestly not very ecological — they get damaged and they are left lying wherever," said Hidalgo back in January, adding that she was personally in favor of a ban. "We can’t contain them in public spaces and they’re causing road safety problems, especially for older and disabled people."