Paris says goodbye to e-scooter startups

Parisians overwhelmingly voted to ban e-scooters in a hotly debated referendum on Sunday divided the French capital.

Voters had two choices: “for” or “against” a citywide ban on shared e-scooters.

89% voted in favor of the ban, but overall turnout was low with only 7.5% of those eligible voting.

The vote wasn’t binding, but city officials did praised stick to the decision called Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

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Paris streets will be cleared of shared e-scooters by September 1, the mayor said. Then the contract with Dott, Tier and Lime – the three e-scooter providers currently operating in the city – expires.

The ban will not affect the e-bikes, which are offered by shared micro-mobility companies and remain in the city.

Although e-scooters were welcomed with open arms in 2018, Parisian local government has gradually tightened its grip over the past five years, enforcing designated parking zones and speed limits and restricting the number of operators.

But despite the regulations, safety concerns, following several fatalities accidentsand complaints of scooters blocking sidewalks and disrupting other commuters took the issue to the extreme, with many calling for an outright ban.

Mayor Hidalgo agreed, saying the e-scooters are a “source of tension and concern.” But instead of banning them outright, they took the decision to the people.

In January the mayor announced what she described as a “public consultation” to resolve the issue ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The e-scooter operators quickly launched a counteroffensive, offering free rides to all users who voted for them and employing social media influencers to support their cause. But without success.

With the results now available, Paris will now be the first European capital to ban the means of transport.

Tier Mobility from Berlin, Dott from Amsterdam and Lime from San Francisco said they were “disappointed” with the news.

The operators called in a joint statement that the use of just 21 polling stations and no ability to vote digitally has resulted in “an extremely low turnout with a strong bias towards older age groups”.

In 2022, Paris recorded about 20 million rides with 15,000 shared e-scooters – 71% of those users were under 35. Many drivers are also tourists who are not allowed to vote.

Some would have preferred a middle ground in the vote.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune supports a sequel to e-scooters in Paris but with more rules. He pointed to statistics suggesting that e-scooters have replaced up to one in five journeys that would otherwise have been made with emission-generating vehicles.

Mayor Hidalgo, on the other hand, called the result “a victory for local democracy.”

Hadi Karam, General Manager for France at Lime, told AFP said last week that Paris was going “against the current” to ban e-scooter rentals.

Elsewhere in France, the mayor of Lyon, France’s third largest city, has just approved one four-year extension of his contract with Tier and Dott.

A little further away are New York, London and Madrid expand the use of e-scooters to decarbonize their transportation systems.

It remains to be seen whether Paris’ e-scooter ban will encourage other cities to follow suit, but it deals a major blow to Dott, Tier and Lime, who are now banned from operating in one of the world’s largest public companies became micro mobility markets.

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