‘Inherently unsafe’ – Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned

E-scooters - an essential new part of the Paris' transportation landscape or a dangerous menace to pedestrians and motorists alike? Readers of The Local weighed in on whether the city should ban rental schemes.

'Inherently unsafe' - Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned
Rental electric scooters are seen on a sidewalk in Paris, on September 4, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

A menace to public safety or a handy to get around the city? As Paris’ city hall contemplates banning trottinnette (electric scooter) rental schemes, The Local asked readers what they think of these zippy transportation alternatives, and whether they should stick around.

Over 80 percent said they would be in favour of banning the E-scooter rental schemes, with several respondents focusing on how they pose a danger to both the riders and nearby pedestrians.

You can see the survey results below:

Credit: The Local, screenshot from Typeform

Of the 76 respondents who voted “Yes,” many felt strongly that the devices ought to be banned, like Alex Thanos who said that “they are dangerous to both users and pedestrians. The machines often litter our sidewalks and streets many users are lawless and put innocents in potentially harmful situations.”

Another respondent, Erinn Ma, said she was in favour of a ban: “Paris is a busy city with enough traffic issues and scooter riders are often adding to the danger by not following basic safety rules.”

Ma and Thanos may find common ground with Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who was reportedly leaning toward banning the free-float E-scooter fleets, currently represented in Paris by three brands: Dott, Lime, and Tier.

The ban would not affect people who buy their own trottinettes, but would affect the fleets of scooters that are available throughout the city to hire by the hour through an app.

Despite the anti-scooter sentiments, these devices have risen significantly in popularity in recent years. According to data compiled by Euronews, “free-floating E-scooters [were] used by over 450,000 people in Paris in September alone.”

Some enjoy the devices because they are seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to cars. One respondent, Stephen Coulter from Australia said that “they create more transport options which are sustainable.”

Meanwhile, others enjoy them simply because they facilitate getting around the city more quickly, and they help to avoid congested public transportation. 

Gaël Grasset, who lives in Paris, believes the city council should vote to keep E-scooter rental schemes because there is “not enough public transport, too many traffic jams.” For Grasset, these devices represent “one of the few ways to get around the city smoothly.”

Thousands of Paris residents felt similarly to Grasset, and have signed an online petition to make their voices heard.

The petition argues that the E-scooter rental schemes are necessary because of difficulties “piling up in public transport, strikes, fuel shortages” and that it would be “counterproductive to take away electric scooters,” particularly as Paris transforms itself into a bike-friendly and less polluted city.”

One petition respondent said that as a woman, access to E-scooter rental schemes “is a very good way” to travel, “especially at night after work. Night time is dangerous, and what’s more it’s easy, less polluting, sustainable, noiseless, without causing congestion or emissions, I thought that’s all Anne Hidalgo wants for Paris.”

As of November 21st, the petition had garnered over 18,000 votes in favour of keeping E-scooter rental schemes in Paris.

But one primary concern of city hall is that as the scooters have become more popular, there has also been a rise in accidents and deaths. AFP reported that there were 22 scooter-related deaths in 2021 – an increase from the seven deaths in 2020.  

Like other large metropolitan areas, Paris is navigating the best way to keep both riders and pedestrians safe – including asking companies to come up with measures to limit reckless riding, according to AFP. In 2019, the city made it so that electric scooter fleets – or trotinettes eléctrique – could only be rented out by three companies, in an effort to better regulate the devices.

Paris also added E-scooters to the French highway code, making them subject to rules of the road including speed limits and a ban on more than one person per scooter.

Nevertheless, many survey respondents still felt the devices remained too dangerous to remain in use in Paris. In fact, 38 of the 94 respondents either used the word “unsafe” or “dangerous” to describe the scooters. Specifically, many readers noted the fact that riders often do not wear helmets and sometimes go on the sidewalk rather than the street. 

One Paris resident, Tad Frizzel, has had more than one E-scooter related accident, as a pedestrian. “The whole situation is a complete bordel [nightmare],” said Frizzel. “I’ve been hit by them twice in a single day!”

Another city resident, Sandra Polaski told The Local that “the rentals are used by people who don’t know/don’t care about the rules. They pose serious dangers to pedestrians. I don’t know how many times I have jumped out of the way of a young man riding very fast on the sidewalk.”

Some respondents also expressed frustration over the devices being left “in the middle or the street and not parked appropriately.”

Yet, according to E-scooter operators, this issue has been mostly remedied. About 96 percent of the devices are now parked where they should be – meaning most of them are not lying on sidewalks or impeding pedestrians.

On November 16th, Paris deputy mayor David Belliard, who has responsibility for transport in the city, said that a decision regarding the fate of electric scooter rental schemes will be “announced in the coming weeks.”

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Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends

France's Eiffel Tower that had been closed for five days by a strike will reopen Sunday after the monument's management announced a deal had been struck with unions.

Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends

The stoppage since Monday at one of the world’s best-known tourist sites was the second within two months in protest at what unions say was insufficient investment.

The tower’s operator SETE said it had reached agreement with the unions on Saturday “under which the parties will regularly monitor the company’s business model, investment in works and revenue through a body that will meet every six months”.

With an aim to balance its books by 2025, both sides also agreed to see an investment of some 380 million euros up to 2031 toward works and maintenance of the tower, the statement said.

SETE extended apologies to visitors caught in the strike action, which resulted in the loss of some 100,000 admissions.

The Eiffel Tower booked a shortfall of around 120 million euros ($130 million) during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

SETE has since received a recapitalisation of 60 million euros, which unions say is insufficient given that major maintenance work is needed, including a fresh paint job.

Visitor numbers dropped sharply during Covid due to closures and travel restrictions, but recovered to 5.9 million in 2022 and 6.3 million last year.

The masterpiece by architect Gustave Eiffel has been repainted 19 times since it was built for the 1889 World Fair.