Market leader Lime, which has operated in the Bouches-du-Rhône (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) city since January this year, has authorised the four-person team to challenge any young person who appears to be using the scooters dangerously, or attempting to throw them into the water.
The issue was discovered after a young local diver, Adrien Painchaud, found the scooters at the bottom of the sea - near the seafront ledge - during a dive. Mr Painchaud has also called on the scooter hire companies to pick up the scooters, which he said can cause dangerous pollution.
Speaking to local newspaper France Bleu Provence, he said: “It is quite a recurring issue, because every few days, young people take them and have fun throwing them in the water. It is sad to see this, because [the scooters] have lithium batteries that can explode underwater, causing all sorts of problems for fish and for swimmers. I live here, and when I see this kind of thing, I can’t let it go.”
He has also claimed that certain scooter hire companies said they “did not have the means” to pick up the scooters from the sea.
He said: “We do this [diving] because we love the sea...so that hurts me a lot.”
The diver has since been coordinating his own "scooter fishing" missions with other local residents.
À Marseille, des dizaines de trottinettes électriques ont été retrouvées au fond de la mer et dans le Vieux-Port.— Konbini news (@konbininews) July 12, 2019
Problème : leurs batteries au lithium sont extrêmement polluantes. Face à ce fléau, les Marseillais décident de repêcher eux-même les engins pic.twitter.com/my1P2LccdZ
Now, Lime has introduced a number of measures designed to limit the problem, including making it impossible to lock the scooters - and so finish your hire of them - if you are on the seafront, or near the city’s Mediterranean museum, the MuCem.
Jérôme Poulet, head of the team that Lime has installed to monitor the seafront, said: “[These young people] are aged 8 to 10, and the oldest must be about 14. It’s true that we have noticed recently that their game was to take the scooters and throw them into the sea. To use their words, ‘It’s super cool’.”
Lime is set to hit one million uses in Marseille in the next few weeks, but electric scooters have proven controversial in France, with a number of deaths linked to their use.
One Marseille resident said: “There are some people who just do whatever; they don’t pay attention. On pavements, they don’t sound their horn; they weave in and out; hit people. It’s very, very dangerous.”
The government has introduced legislation intended to help, with imminent laws intended to ban the scooters completely from pavements and pedestrian areas. Similarly, their use on roads is limited, and users will soon be expected to have mandatory safety lights and stick to a maximum speed.
Paris has also introduced its own measures on the scooters’ use in pedestrianised areas.
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