You might have realised that I myself spend quite a bit of time in Paris. The 15-minute city is a role model for smart mobility transformation and e-scooters played a major role in that. Currently there are around 15,000 of them available in the French capital, with many thousand privately owned e-scooters on top. The Parisians love their own e-scooter, hence a city of say 10 million people was able to use the rather small number of 15,000 vehicles to share by now.
“Join us tonight for a memorable ride in Paris”
Because of my frequent use of these electric two-wheelers in Paris, I now receive almost daily offers to take a ride on an e-scooter. The sharing providers such as Lime, Bolt, TIER or Dott offer free rides to come to friendly gatherings of e-scooter fans at major destinations such as the Place de la Republique, Montparnasse or on the Champs-Elysées. “Join us tonight for a memorable ride in Paris,” is the headline of the latest offer from Lime, today. And in the text they state quite bluntly, “If you want in, meet us tonight to enjoy the ride together, before the decisive vote on Sunday, April 2nd.” Implying, this could be your last ride, and theirs too.
A big fan of e-scooters initially was the current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. If she has her way, the rental model now could soon be over. She has spoken out against e-scooters in her city. On April 2, the capital's residents will be able to vote on whether the ban will actually come to Paris. "Do we or do we not want to continue with free-standing rental scooters," she asks the inhabitants of the capital and the race is far from decided. Her criticism follows many in the anti-e-scooter gang: The freely parkable e-scooters block the pavements, lie in the parks and often enough in the river Seine. Daredevil rides repeatedly lead to tricky situations in traffic, some riders not taking the rules too seriously.
I myself really enjoyed the rides through the French capital, however I need to point out that I swapped e-scooters with either bikes (for longer distances) or simply walked by foot through the city during my last visits. For sharing providers this vote could be a major blow to their business model, which already has taken a hit in recent years with the COVID standstills in almost all urban areas. On their way to profitability, a front runner such as Paris turning its back on e-scooters, could prove to be a major dent in their drive providing a sustainable mobility solution in cities around the world. Let’s see.
Images courtesy of Michael Brecht.