Paris will ban rented e-scooters from the French capital in September after a vote that attracted just 4 per cent of the city’s residents, dealing a blow to operators in one of their biggest markets.
City hall said that 89 per cent of people who voted in the referendum backed the ban. It added that it would not launch new tenders or renew licences for the 15,000 e-scooters in use, operated by Germany’s Tier, Uber-backed Lime and Franco-Dutch group Dott.
The ban of “trottinettes” will worry operators hoping to win over other cities, particularly as Paris is a closely watched hub for the way it had adopted urban regulations. It could also make investors even more reluctant to back these capital-hungry start-ups at a time when lossmaking tech ventures have fallen out of favour.
Operators such as Lime acknowledged Paris was a “laboratory for micromobility”, and until recently the city had been their biggest market. It still ranks in their top five globally and counted 400,000 registered rented e-scooter users. The scooters have been particularly popular among younger people and tourists.
But the devices had annoyed locals after their unregulated introduction in 2018. At one point there were 35,000 e-scooters from 12 operators, often littering the streets and blocking doorways.
Rules have since been tightened and licensing was introduced but e-scooters were still viewed by some Parisians as dangerous, despite a speed limit of 20km/h.
Henri Moissinac, chief executive of Dott, said on Monday it was “too early to tell” if the ban threatened the viability of some scooter operators but acknowledged the “emotional impact [is] certainly not going to warm up some investors”.
The referendum had been criticised by e-scooter companies for being overly restrictive, with just 100,000 people voting. The restrictions included an early registration cut-off, limited voting stations and no electronic or postal voting.
“The way the vote was set up was obviously going to be a negative,” said Moissinac.
“Paris had for a long time been setting the trends on everything [to do with] micromobility,” he added. “But that has changed and this weekend is the perfect example of that . . . Every single capital city in Europe is increasing these services; Paris is the only one going backwards.”
Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s Socialist mayor, said on Sunday that “more than 100,000 voters is very positive and encouraging” and city hall would hold similar polls on other issues.
The mayor and her transport head David Belliard, a Green politician, said the battery-operated e-scooters were not environmentally friendly because they had a short lifespan.
Hidalgo, who runs the city in a coalition with the Greens, plans to phase out older diesel cars altogether while restricting car usage in some central parts of Paris next year.
About 800 jobs are at risk because of the e-scooter ban and operators, which still have licences in other French cities and also have bike services, said they would try to offer staff options elsewhere.
“Most of the demand we see in scooters will go to e-bikes,” said Moissinac. “They are less controversial.”