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France to ban electric scooters from pavements

Electric foot scooters - or trottinettes - will no longer be permitted to ride on pedestrian pavements in France, ministers have confirmed, as part of a new set of laws on similar transport methods.

The new rules are part of a wider legal project from the minister for the interior and the minister for transport, which will introduce a legal framework for other similar electric vehicles too.

From September this year, users of scooters that can travel at more than 25 kph will risk a fine of €135 if they are discovered to be using the pavement without prior permission from the local mayor. Any user going over 25 kph on any road or path will risk a fine of €1,500.

Users will also be banned from wearing headphones while riding, and will be required to ensure that their scooters have working lights, brakes, and a horn.

Users will need to be at least eight years old to legally ride, and anyone under the age of 12 will be required to wear a helmet. Passengers will not be permitted.

The scooters are now part of a new category dubbed “engins de déplacement personnel motorisés (motorised personal transport equipment; EDPM)”. This also includes one-wheel cycles, gyropods (such as the Segway), and high-speed “hoverboards”.

Previously, these forms of transport had no specific regulations nationwide, although a month ago, the city of Paris had introduced similar laws (and the same €135 fine) for electric scooter users on pavements.

The new nationwide rules will also require users of these methods of transport to take the cycle lane - if there is one - and stay on roads with a speed limit of less than 50 kph.

Outside of urban areas, electric scooters will also be banned on pavements, and limited to green routes (voies vertes) and bicycle lanes.

Transport minister Elisabeth Borne said: “[This transport] is fulfilling a need for mobility, and they do not pollute. [But they have been developed] in a very rapid and slightly anarchic way, and it has effectively become ‘the law of the jungle’.

“This decree will allow us to put simple rules in place that will permit a more responsible use of this equipment. Our main objective is that pedestrians do not have to jump back into walls any longer.”

Ms Borne added: “[The project] is the result of several months of work with the parties concerned. The manufacturers and sellers of these transport methods are themselves calling for rules of best practice and for clarifications on the use of this equipment.”

The new rules have been sent to the European Commission, and will be presented to a national council, then the Conseil d’Etat.

Sales of these forms of transport, and their accessories, reached €278 million in 2018, a rise of 32% compared to the year before, according to a study by Fédération FP2M-Smart Mobility Lab.

This equated to 1.64 million units sold last year, with a 20% year-on-year drop in mechanical models, and a 43% rise in electric.

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