With the ban on rental e-scooters in Paris, shared micromobility companies will have to find a different way to get people around. Lime, Dott and Tier may have to rethink their business model and look for other cities where they can prosper.
After initially regulating e-scooters as vehicles and imposing speed limits, Paris has now completely reversed its policy on shared micromobility contracts. The city is hoping that this shift will encourage more companies to enter the market, while also creating a more orderly environment for riders.
Parisians are opposed to the sharing of e-scooters within the city. Residents voted 89% against keeping these devices in the city, citing safety concerns as their main reason for voting against them. The three companies operating in Paris under contracts with the City must remove their fleets by September 1st. This marks a major setback for the companies and may deter other cities from entering into similar arrangements with these firms.
Hidalgo has been fighting for a more livable Paris, and her policies have led to the city reclaiming parking spaces from cars to create new bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas. Shared scooters have come under a lot of pushback from many city residents who often complain about reckless driving and clutter on sidewalks. However, Hidalgo is adamant that shared scooters are an important part of helping make Paris a more environmentally-friendly 15-minute city.
Despite complaints from many, scooters have continued to be popular in recent years. They are cheap to use and often replace walking or public transit, rather than car usage. However, their popularity has caused a lot of accidents and Hidalgo suggests that the business model is too expensive to be sustainable with a 10 minute ride costing about €5. Free-floating scooters aren’t as climate friendly as Hidalgo would want and she suggests that we need to find alternatives for transportation that are more sustainable overall.
A study from 2019 found that, on average, 7% of kilometers covered by scooters replace car and personal taxi trips. While this may not seem like a large number, it is an important indicator that scooter usage is growing and may be a viable replacement for car trips in some cases.
Perhaps one of the reasons Paris decided against implementing shared electric scooters as part of its mobility package is due to the numerous accidents that have taken place involving these vehicles.While they may be an alternative to cars for some, their lack of regulation and availability on public spaces makes them difficult for people to use in a safe and efficient manner. In light of this, investing more in bicycles, e-bikes, and walking would be a wiser decision.
Low voter turnout
Although many Parisians appear to have been upset with their decision to vote down shared e-scooters, many scooter companies and advocates were not surprised. Many city officials in Paris have voiced concerns about the safety of these vehicles, voicing a need to strictly regulate their use. Additionally, scooter companies had promised residents that they would only be allowed on certain streets and that they would need a license in order to ride them. However, those promises haven’t exactly been kept – there are now shared e-scooters everywhere in the city. This has led many residents to complain about how the vehicles are being used without providing any tangible benefits.
Since the referendum questions were about specific changes to the Paris city government, some would say that it was not really a referendum on whether or not people support or oppose the status quo. Some strict polling station rules, combined with no electronic voting, may have kept many younger Parisians from being able to participate in what they saw as an important decision. With less than 7% of registered voters turning out to cast ballots and critics saying that this skewed the results in favor of those who supported order over change, it is clear that significant work needs to be done if another plebiscite on similar issues is ever going to be successful.
Because of the timing of the referendum, many Paris residents who take part in the city’s popular marathon were unable to participate. Additionally, a majority of votes came from those living within the city limits, excluding those who live just outside the boundaries yet commute in. While these factors may have affected how the referendum turned out, it is difficult to say with certainty what their impact was.
As it turned out, the operators’ free rides effort may have gone in vain as many young voters apparently did not take advantage of the offer. Parisians who spoke to reporters claimed that there were a lot more older voters in line than younger ones, and this discrepancy may have been due to the free transportation being offered as an incentive for voting.
Lime and Dott have made huge inroads in the city recently. Lime has even spoken about wanting to bring their scooters to other cities around the world, such as London and New York City. With this popularity, it is unlikely that Hidalgo will ban the scooters anytime soon even though they only received a low voter turnout. These numbers clearly show that scooters are very popular in Paris, so it is highly likely that Hidalgo will keep them around for now.
The Paris city council voted on Wednesday to ban all combustion-engine vehicles from the city by 2020, in a bid to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. The ban will not have an effect on the e-bikes offered by shared micromobility companies, which will remain in the city. Similarly privately owned scooters are not affected by the ban, of which 700,000 were sold in France last year, according to transport ministry figures.