On Sunday, 2 April, Paris residents took part in a referendum to vote on a ban of shared e-scooters in the French capital.
1. Shared e-scooters ban
About 103,000 Paris residents voted in Sunday’s referendum, 89% out of which favoured a ban on electric scooters. This only concerns sharing services, personal e-scooters being unaffected by the decision.
“Parisians have massively expressed their disapproval of shared scooters in Paris. They have given us a clear roadmap and we are going to follow their decision”, Mayor Anne Hildago said at a press conference.
From the following 1 September, there will be no more shared electric scooters in Paris.Anne Hildago, Mayor of Paris
Since their introduction in the French capital in 2018, shared electric scooters have been under increasing scrutiny due to safety concerns. In 2020, only three operators were allowed in Paris, Dott, Lime and Tier, each with 5,000 vehicles. Their contracts expire at the end of August and, according to the referendum results, will not be renewed thereafter.
Even after limiting the number of vehicles, accidents kept increasing. Deputy Mayor David Belliard reported on twitter that 42% more e-scooter accidents were registered in Paris in 2022 compared to 2020, resulting in 3 deaths and 459 injured people. Moreover, Belliard argued that they are not even such a sustainable alternative, simply replacing walking, cycling or taking public transport.
Despite these results, operators hope to reach a common ground, where stricter regulations rather than a total ban can contribute to the safety of e-scooter users as well as those around them. “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 Lime spokesperson said on Monday.
2. Low turnout
While 89% of the participants voted for the ban, only 7.46% of the eligible voters actually took part in the referendum. About 91,300 people (6.62%) from the 1.38 million inscribed on the city’s electoral register voted in favour of the ban.
Despite Mayor Hidalgo praising the results as a “victory for local democracy”, many have spoken up against the incredibly low turnout, with French Transport Minister Clément Beaune calling it “a massive democratic flop” on BFM television.
Member of the National Assembly for the first constituency of Paris Sylvain Maillard also called the entire affair a “gigantic democratic fiasco”. “Electric scooters will remain authorized but will therefore only be accessible to those who can afford to buy one. I am thinking of the young Parisians who are the big losers in this binary vote organized by a municipality which has decided to set one generation against the other”, Maillard shared on twitter.
Less than 8% participation, no organized campaign, no online voting or proxy, very few offices and a binary choice without any solution provided: the vote on shared scooters is a gigantic democratic fiasco.Sylvain Maillard, Member of the National Assembly for the first constituency of Paris
Shared e-scooter operator Dott also criticised the “very restrictive voting methods”, referring to the three operators’ request to allow e-voting for this referendum, hoping to engage more with their target demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds.
On the other hand, Dott, Lime and Tier offered free rides on Sunday to incentivise their users to participate in the referendum, which was considered a controversial campaigning technique.
3. Nuisance across Europe
While the popularity of shared electric scooters has been increasing over the past years, so has their notoriety. With accidents being on the rise and growing inconveniences over careless parking, capitals across Europe have been taking measures against the vehicles.
Belgium introduced stricter regulations in 2022 and still about 800 people were injured in e-scooter accidents, so Brussels has just launched an awareness campaign for e-scooter road safety. Barcelona has already banned them, while Lisbon has reduced their numbers by half and, along with Stockholm and Oslo, limited the maximum speed to 20 km/h.