Paris held a referendum on Sunday, and the results were clear – 89% of the votes were in favor of the ban, according to the city hall Twitter account. However, here’s the twist: only 7.46% of registered voters participated in the referendum.
The French capital’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said Paris would ban electric scooters from September 1. Given the massive financial losses that would incur, e-scooter operators said on Monday that they hoped to stop the plan. A spokesperson for Lime declared, “We remain hopeful that we can continue to work with Mayor Hidalgo to adopt sensible regulations instead of a ban on e-scooters and avoid a step backward for Paris.”
A spokesman for Dott, another e-scooter rental company, pointed at the extremely low turnout, declaring that it was heavily biased toward older age groups.
According to Reuters, Paris offered companies a three-year contract, requiring that scooters’ speed be limited to 20 kph (12 mph) and designating scooter parking areas. Operators came up with regulations of their own, such as checking users were over 18, introducing license plates so offenders could be easily identified, as well as limiting the vehicles to one passenger.
Accidents still happen, even with all these regulations in place. In 2021, 24 people died in scooter-related accidents in France, including one in Paris. Last year, 458 accidents involving e-scooters and similar vehicles took place in Paris, three of which were fatal.
We’ll have to wait and see if the plan will be reverted and whether Paris will choose to enforce even tighter regulations instead of an outright ban. But these recent events might inspire other countries or cities to restrict or ban the use of rental e-scooters.
Of course, the opinions differed depending on the age group – 74% of those over 70 felt most threatened by the EVs, compared to 59% of 17-34-year-old. Moreover, responses varied according to region. The residents of London and the West Midlands felt most under threat by the increasing number of e-scooters, so these regions are most likely to adopt a similar approach to what we’ve seen in Paris.
Perhaps banning e-scooters altogether isn’t the best solution, as many of the respondents thought. 86% of those surveyed said they support stricter regulation of the devices, including a law restricting e-scooters to cycle lanes only, enforcing age limits, and introducing rigorous design and construction standards.
The latest Department for Transport (DfT) statistics in the U.K. point toward a grim reality – there were 1,434 casualties involving e-scooters in Britain in 2021, 10 of which were fatal. In 2020, there were 484 casualties involving e-scooters. That means casualties have almost tripled over a 12-month span.
Other cities around the world, such as Barcelona, Spain, have already introduced some restrictions. After an e-scooter exploded and caught fire last November on board a train in Barcelona, the city prohibited residents from bringing electric scooters onto public transport starting February 1, although only for six months.
No doubt traveling by e-scooters has its perks, but the statistics clearly point toward an issue. Even so, cities and governments should find other solutions than totally banning them.