Paris residents are being asked to vote on whether to keep electric scooters available for hire across the capital as part of a wider “reflection on coexisting in the public space”.
“We want Parisians to decide. We’ve gone as far as we can in terms of regulation. And despite that, we’re seeing that we still have a lot of issues [with the e-scooters],” deputy mayor David Belliard told FranceInfo in an interview.
The vote is set to take place on April 2, ahead of the contract renewal dates with e-scooter providers.
Mr Belliard is in charge of the public space, transport, personal transport, the highway code and public roads in Paris and was commenting after the plans for a vote were announced by mayor Anne Hidalgo on Saturday, January 14.
He added: “We have to act because we are arriving at the end of our contracts with the [e-scooter] operators and we are going to act in consultation with them.”
Co-existing in the public space
Mr Belliard said: “The problem isn’t just one thing. It’s about coexisting in the public space, which is changing. All types of transport have to coexist.
“But what does that mean? It means respecting the rules, learning new rules, and also asking ourselves if we want, or not, to continue with for-hire e-scooters. We want Parisians to decide.”
New e-scooter highway code
Mr Belliard said that he agreed with Ms Hidalgo that e-scooters could be subject to more rules. These could include requiring them to have licence plates (to make issuing fines for poor driving easier), and introducing an e-scooter highway code.
He said: “We clearly need one. We should have one in place before the summer. And there is also the question of e-scooter regulation. We have no jurisdiction. Even at the head of a city as large as Paris, we still don’t have all the tools we need.
“We’ve gone as far as we can in terms of regulation. We asked for a reduction in the number of operators and in the number of e-scooters for hire; 15,000 in Paris. We’ve created 2,500 areas dedicated to e-scooters…and despite this, we still have a lot of problems.”
Transport ‘compatible with cities like Paris’?
Mr Belliard said that a conversation needed to be had about new forms of transport that “barely existed 10 years ago”. He said: “The issue is constantly evolving; we are changing the way we travel. Part of it is about technology, and the other is a change in behaviour.
“Politicians, including myself, need to champion certain types of transport over others, like bikes or public transport, and regulate or ban other forms that are not compatible with cities like Paris.”
Paris and e-scooters: An uneasy history
Paris has long had an uneasy relationship with e-scooters. It considered banning them from use after a pedestrian died in an accident in June 2021.
Nationwide, also in June 2021, a 12-year-old child and a 60-year-old man died, in separate accidents, involving e-scooters.
The vehicles were temporarily banned from the Champs-Elysées in July 2021, ‘due to an increase in inappropriate behaviour’, the police said.
In October 2019, the government passed a law imposing a speed limit of 25km/h nationwide. In Paris, the limit is 20 km/h and only 10km/h in some areas.
People who ride the scooters without abiding by the rules (such as riding too fast, riding on pavements, using a mobile phone, or wearing headphones) risk fines of up to €1,500.
E-scooter riders must also abide by wider road laws, including stopping at red lights. Users must also be aged 12 or over, wear a helmet, and ride alone.
The capital has repeatedly threatened not to renew contracts with the providers due to ongoing problems.