Paris Becomes the First European Capital to Ban Rented Electric Scooters

As Paris’s experiment with e-scooters came to an end on Friday, Anne-Marie Moreno set out on her morning walk feeling just a little more peaceful. Ms. Moreno, a 78-year-old retiree who was knocked over by a man riding an electric scooter a few years back, was luxuriating in the calm of her neighborhood.

She didn’t come across a single person on an e-scooter.

Paris became the first European capital to outlaw the vehicles on Friday, following a vote in April in which Parisians overwhelmingly supported a ban, although turnout was low. Privately owned e-scooters, which the city cannot regulate, are exempt.

“I’m always scared when I see one,” Ms. Moreno said. “I got off with just a scratch when I was knocked over, but I’m scared that the next time I fall, I’ll crack my head in two.” Her husband nodded next to her as cars, mopeds and bikes zoomed past a busy intersection at the Place du Général Leclerc in southern Paris.

Since their eruption onto the streets and sidewalks of cities across the world in 2019, e-scooters have posed unique regulatory problems for city officials. The vehicles often stayed in legal limbo as officials mapped out charters for e-scooter operators, capped fleets and regulated parking.

Late-night workers in particular said they would miss them.

On Friday morning, Abbas Hamy, 36, was neatly aligning falafels on the rim of an open-air fryer in his Lebanese sandwich shop. He wasn’t aware of the ban. “So this means that if I finish work at 2 a.m., I can’t take an e-scooter home?” he asked. He said he liked how fast his ride home was on an e-scooter in the middle of the night. Empty streets meant he could make it home in minutes, despite living about four miles from his workplace.

He said he had never seen the scooters cause any problem on the street where he works, the Rue Mouffetard, one of the most popular places for street food in Paris. But he understood the security concerns.

Another restaurant worker, Marius Henry, who works in a bistro near the Place de la République, said he regularly used e-scooters to go home after late-night shifts, when Paris’s metro system is closed. “I can’t take a taxi home because they’re too expensive, so e-scooters are perfect,” he said. “And they’re more fun than bikes.”

But those who support the ban believe it will make streets more peaceful.

“I’ve taken e-scooters twice, but still, I voted against them, for the good of my city,” said Félix Ranson, a 22-year-old economics student who bikes to his university every day. “I’d rather the city improve the bike service than have scooters take over the sidewalks.”

David Belliard, the deputy mayor in charge of transportation in Paris, agreed. “We’re concentrating on making it easier to walk or bike through Paris,” he said. “E-scooters were creating a lot of nuisance.”

E-scooters, whether rented or personally owned, killed three people and wounded 459 others in 2022, according to the Paris police headquarters. But France’s largest risk-prevention association, Prévention Routière, said it would have preferred that the city concentrate on helmet use and the regulation of rides at night, when most accidents happen, rather than a ban.

“Banning shared e-scooters won’t change the way people behave,” said Anne Lavaud, the leader of Prévention Routière.

The City of Paris said it would open almost 25 more miles of bike lanes this year, and e-scooter operators have bolstered their e-bike fleets in recent months in anticipation of the ban. They said they would redeploy their scooters in cities where fleets are expanding, in France or abroad.

“Since Paris voted to ban e-scooters, we’ve won permits or had permits renewed in London, Rome and Madrid,” said Nicolas Gorse, the general director of Dott, one of three e-scooter operators in Paris. “The ban is not endangering our business model.”

As Paris was banning e-scooters, European cities of comparable size, like Berlin, threw their weight behind the devices. Berlin has five scooter operators and 40,000 registered e-scooters zooming across the city. “There’s always more,” the Berliner Zeitung, a local news outlet, recently commented.

The vote in Paris initially resonated in other French cities at a time when many were wondering how tightly to regulate the devices. Just after the vote, officials in Marseille, France’s second-largest city, said they were considering a similar vote. Ultimately, they dropped the idea, leaving Paris an outlier.

“Paris has an exceptional public transport system and plenty of bike lanes,” said Audrey Gatian, the deputy mayor for transportation in Marseille. “The situation is different here.” In Marseille, she believes, e-scooters play a crucial role in correcting the uneven distribution of public transport and in decreasing the reliance on cars.

Lime, the largest scooter operator in Paris, said it would not fire anyone as a result of the ban. But Dott, the second-largest operator, said it planned to fire 50 of its full-time workers and 50 of the seasonal workers it usually recruits when demand soars in summer.

Dott said it would try to offer its workers jobs in French cities like Lille, where operations are expanding. “It is a painful process,” Mr. Gorse said. But said he was relieved that the City Hall and his company now shared a single objective.

“Everyone agrees on ramping up the bike service, especially with the Paris Olympics next summer,” he said.

Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting.

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