Parisians will be invited to vote on whether to allow electric scooter rental services to continue operating in the French capital as authorities consider a ban on the controversial for-hire vehicles, the mayor said.
The issue is “extremely divisive,” Anne Hidalgo told the weekend edition of Le Parisien newspaper, with critics saying drivers show only superficial respect for the rules of the road.
They often defy the ban on riding on sidewalks or park regardless, while some abandon their scooters in parks or even throw them into the Seine.
Meanwhile, fans are hailing the speedy fleet – a total of 15,000 scooters operated by rental companies Lime, Dott and Tier – as a fast, non-polluting alternative to cars or crowded public transport.
Hidalgo said Paris residents would be asked “a very simple question” in a referendum planned for April 2: “Do we continue or not continue renting free-floating scooters?”
The mayor said that she herself is striving for a ban, but that she will respect the voice of Parisians.
A ban would make Paris an exception among major cities.
In September, the capital already threatened the three operators that they would not renew their licenses, which expire in March, if they did not limit reckless driving and other “abuses”.
The operators outlined a number of proposed improvements in November, including equipping the scooters with number plates that would make it easier to track drivers who run red lights or travel in pairs in single-person vehicles – both common offences.
David Belliard, Hidalgo’s deputy in charge of city transportation, however, said the cost-benefit analysis does not favor rental schemes. “They’re on the road and they’re dangerous,” he said, saying he’s in favor of a ban to “calm our streets and sidewalks.”
There was “too much negative feedback” from citizens about the scooters, he said.
Meanwhile, Hidalgo told Le Parisien that private scooters, also very popular in the capital, were not the target of the referendum. They are “not a problem,” she said.