Paris is clamping down on the exponential use of electric scooters by forcing operators to sign a charter of good practice or face a total ban.
The French capital is awash with free-floating “trottinettes électriques”, as Parisians call them, with a string of companies such as Lime, Bird and Uber flooding the streets with the speedy devices.
While they have revolutionised mobility for Parisians and tourists, they have become the bane of motorists and pedestrians. With almost 250,000 e-scooters sold in France last year – a 129 per cent increase compared with 2017 – doctors also warn that they are facing a surge in accidents resulting from falls.
The problem has become acute in Paris where the rental fleet is estimated at 15,000 and growing fast. Users often fail to wear helmets despite many e-scooters reaching speeds of 37mph. One was even recently filmed at 53mph on a motorway near Paris.
A total of 284 people were injured and five killed in accidents involving scooters in 2017, the last year for which full figures are available. Élisabeth Borne, the French transport minister, said that their sudden arrival had been a “bit anarchic” and that they had brought “the law of the jungle” to French streets.
The government intends to outlaw riding an e-scooter on a pavement from September, with a fine of €135 for infringements. E-scooters will be authorised only in bicycle lanes and on minor roads, with a maximum authorised speed of 15mph and a fine of up to €1,500 for exceeding the limit.
In the meantime, transport deputies of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo this week signed a charter with 10 e-scooter operators to “regulate scooter use”.
Christophe Najdovski, transport deputy, said the capital was saturated. “If we do nothing, in the next few months, we’ll have 30,000 or 40,000 scooters. It’s not tolerable," he said.
“We put the public space at (operators’) disposal. In return, we hope operators will find solutions in terms of traffic and parking,” he added.
If self-regulation failed, however, the municipality would simply ban e-scooters until the autumn law is enacted, he said.
The charter’s main aim is to get operators "do their utmost" to ensure that the scooters don’t clutter pavement and to pass on the message to customers. The town hall will tow away any scooters that are considered to be blocking passages and fine operators around €100 to retrieve each.
If a complaint is made, operators have 12 hours to act or pay up. It is their responsibility to avoid the "over-concentration" of scooters in one place. To ensure this, staff who pick them up must place them in areas where they don’t cause trouble.
They must also share their data so the town hall can map out activity. The municipality will provide 500 dedicated parking spaces. Scooters must be insured, and users must sign a declaration that they are not underage. Customer service must be available in French.
As the French grapple with the e-scooter craze, the UK government is mulling an end to the ban on using e-scooters, Segways and hoverboards on roads and pavements.
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