PARIS (AP) — Parisians have overwhelmingly voted to banish the French capital’s ubiquitous for-hire electric scooters from their streets.
The 15,000 opinion-dividing mini-machines are now expected to vanish from central Paris at the end of August when the city’s contracts with the three operators expire.
The question City Hall asked voters in a citywide mini-referendum on Sunday was: “For or against self-service scooters in Paris?”
The result wasn’t close. City Hall said just over 103,000 people voted, with 89% rejecting e-scooters and just 11% supporting them.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the consultative referendum as a success and said its outcome was “very clear.”
“There will no longer be any self-service scooters in Paris from September 1st,” she said.
Many Parisians welcomed the news, including self-described pedestrian Hila Charon.
“There are many accidents (because) people don’t pay attention to how they ride,” Charon said. “It’s very dangerous, and to see these scooters on the ground everywhere all the time … I’m very happy that everyone voted against them: 90%!”
Others held out hope that the e-scooters won’t be banned outright.
“It is a shame because it answers a real need, people were happy to have them, but I still hope they won’t simply ban them but rather improve regulations,” said Michael Yadan, who often cycles.
The vote had been open to all of Paris’ 1.38 million registered voters, but the low turnout has been criticized by the scooter companies.
“The result is based on only around 100,000 cast votes, which equals a voter turnout of 7.46%,” said TIER mobility spokesman Florian Anders. “So this means that a very small group of people have a disproportionate influence on the city’s urban mobility system, which we think is a shame.”
A joint statement from Lime, Dott and TIER pointed to “restrictive voting methods” that didn’t include either online or proxy voting and that voting locations were limited on a day when the French capital hosted a marathon that forced some road closures.
“We regret that Parisians will lose a shared and green transport option … It is a step back for sustainable transport in Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympics,” it added.
Scattered around Paris, easy to locate and rent with a downloadable app and relatively cheap, the scooters are a hit with tourists who love their speed and the help-yourself freedom they offer.
In the five years since their introduction, following in the wake of shared cars and shared bicycles, for-rent scooters have also built a following among some Parisians who don’t want or can’t afford their own but like the option to escape the Metro and other public transport.
But many Parisians complain that e-scooters are an eyesore and a traffic menace, and the micro-vehicles have been involved in hundreds of accidents, some fatal.
Hidalgo and some of her deputies campaigned to banish the “free floating” rental flotilla — so called because scooters are picked up and dropped off around town at their renters’ whim — on safety, public nuisance and environmental cost-benefit grounds before the capital hosts the Olympic Games next year.
Jeffrey Schaeffer in Paris contributed