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French e-scooter users ‘must be licensed and insured’

Electric scooters (trottinettes) in France should have licence plates, require driver insurance, and must require the real name and details of anyone hiring them, a victims’ campaigning association has said.

The demands come in the same week as a rider of an electric scooter died in Yvelines (Île-de-France) after taking on the motorway. The accident also caused injury to a motorbike rider.

Campaigners from electric scooter victims’ association Apacauvi (Association Philanthropique Action Contre l’Anarchie Urbaine Vecteur d’Incivilité) attended a meeting yesterday (Monday August 12) in Paris, with the minister of ecology, and called for more to be done to regulate the scooters.

Jean-René Albertin, president of Apacauvi, whose wife - a professional pianist - is still recovering after having been hit by an electric scooter last June, said: “It was a meeting for [the government] to hear our position, as stakeholders concerned by the future regulation of scooters.

“The interview took place in a constructive atmosphere. We were alone, and there were no scooter company representatives around the table.”

The 1,400-member group has called for new regulation of electric scooters as part of the government’s current transport bill, le Projet de Loi d’Orientation sur les Mobilités (LOM). This is set to be discussed in the Assemblée Nationale this September.

The group’s regulation requests included requiring scooter users (whether owners or hirers) to have insurance, to have a mandatory licence plate, and to use their real name when signing up to hire.

Lawyers for the group are also planning a class action suit against the Mayor of Paris, “as there is a danger to life” and “threat to the public order”, according to lawyer Hadrien Muller.

Apacauvi vice-president Arnaud Kielbasa, whose wife was run over on a pavement by a scooter last May, while she was carrying the couple’s little girl, said: “Currently, 90% of scooter-for-hire users do not have insurance, and it is very difficult for victims to get compensation.

“We must require users to take out insurance, in the same was as we do for drivers [and] as they do in Germany.”

He also demanded “mandatory licence plates for these electric engines, as is already in place for motorbike-style scooters. This would allow us to trace and prosecute drivers. Hirers should also register using a real name, and not a pseudonym.

“Operators must share their data with administration authorities on infractions. This is already what happens with hire car companies.”

The group highlighted that three people in France have been killed in accidents involving the scooters since the beginning of spring this year.

This is on top of around “160-200 [non-fatal] accidents per month”, according to Mr Kielbasa.

Many people who cause these accidents cannot be identified or prosecuted, the group said, because there is currently no legislation in place that requires scooters riders or hirers to use their real identity, have insurance, or submit identifying documents.

This is in contrast to hiring a car or a motorbike, for example - which requires proper insurance, a valid licence, and legal ID.

The group is now planning to meet with five MPs who will have a key role in discussing the forthcoming LOM bill.

Mr Kielbasa said: “We know that the fight will be tough. We are still shaken post-gilets jaunes, and we feel that the executive will not want to add too many constraints in terms of mobility [to the public].”

Electric scooters, which can reach speeds of up to 25 kph, have been controversial in recent months, as their use continues to spread.

The government has already put some measures in place to legislate electric scooters.

While ministers have stopped short of making helmets mandatory nationwide, the devices are already banned from pavements and pedestrian zones, under pain of a fine of up to €135. Users must instead take the cycle lane on the normal road (if there is one), and stay in zones with a speed limit of up to 50 kph.

Any scooter user found to be going faster than 25 kph on any pedestrianised area already risks a fine of up to €1,500. There are also plans to ban users from wearing headphones while riding, and the devices will also be required to have working lights, brakes, and a horn.

Users must be at least eight years old, and anyone under age 12 must wear a helmet.

A new tax on hire scooters is also due to come into place for operating companies in Paris, and the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo now requires hire companies to share real-time data of the location of their scooters with the Mairie every three hours.

In May, then-transport minister Elisabeth Borne admitted that the development and rapid rise in scooter use had happened “in a very rapid and slightly anarchic way, and it has effectively become ‘the law of the jungle’”.

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