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Cars and TransportationFrance

Paris to ban e-scooters, despite tiny voter turnout

April 3, 2023

Voters in Paris overwhelmingly approved of outlawing the e-scooters. However, fewer than one in 10 chose to cast a ballot. The city government said it would nevertheless treat the result as binding.

A man crosses a bridge on an e-scooter with the Eiffel Tower in the background
The opponents of e-scooters have called the vehicles dangerous and a nuisanceImage: Victor Joly/abaca/picture alliance

Voters in the city of Paris on Sunday voiced support for banning the use of for-hire electric scooters in the French capital. 

The city government announced that 89% of voters approved of the proposed ban, while 11% opposed it. 

However, only about 7% of the city's 1.3 million eligible voters took part. 

Mayor Hidalgo celebrates 'overwhelming' verdict

Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced the vote in January, which she described as a "public consultation" rather than a referendum, to settle the issue of the divisive means of transport ahead of the 2024 Olympics hosted by the city.

The pro-cycling mayor from the Socialist Party has come out in favor of the ban, calling the e-scooters a "source of tension and worry."

She had said prior to the vote that she would abide by the outcome and reiterated this when commenting on the results online. 

"Thank you to the more than 100,000 Parisians who expressed themselves today, it's a nice victory for local democracy," Hidalgo wrote on Twitter. "Parisians have overwhelmingly spoken out against e-scooters, we will put an end to it by September 1." 


Operators pin hopes on youth

Low turnout for the single-issue vote that received only muted attention had been widely predicted, and was expected to help the ban camp, but the other side had tried to encourage young people to get out and vote.

The three companies that operators of e-scooters in the city — Lime, Dott and Tier — have said they transported nearly 2 million people last year, of which 71% were under 35.

They were offering free round trips on Sunday to those users who say they are voting. The companies have also paid social media influencers to back their cause.

E-scooters are also popular among the French capital's many tourists, but they are not able to vote and are, in fact, a large part of why some people want a ban.

Paris votes on banishing e-scooter rentals

What is the debate over e-scooters?

Critics say that tourists often do not know how to deal with the city's frenetic traffic or disrespect the rules, riding on sidewalks and traveling two to a scooter.

"I regularly, in fact pretty much all the time, see tourists riding them in pairs, people who often are oblivious to what they are doing, who aren't in control of the scooter," Parisian Raphael Sicat told the Associated Press, adding that he often sees the for-hire scooters involved in crashes.

Paris registered 459 accidents involving e-scooters or similar vehicles in 2022, three of them fatal. 

There is also a debate over whether the scooters are environmentally friendly.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune, who would support a continuation of e-scooters in Paris with more rules, said e-scooters have replaced up to one in five journeys that would otherwise have been made with emissions-producing vehicles.

But critics point to the fact that the batteries have a life expectancy of around just three years and most journeys e-scooters replace would be made on foot, by bicycle, or on public transport.

ab, msh/rm (AP, AFP)

Sustainable mobility in the big city