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Paris bans e-scooters after mini referendum, could London be next?

Parisians have overwhelmingly voted to banish for-hire e-scooters from the streets of the French capital, in a mini-referendum the mayor said sent a “very clear message”.

Approximately 15,000 e-scooters could now vanish from central Paris at the end of August when the city’s contracts with the three operators expire.

In Paris, the question that City Hall asked voters in its citywide mini-referendum on Sunday was: “For or against self-service scooters in Paris?”

The result was not close. City Hall said on its website about 103,000 people voted, with 89 per cent rejecting e-scooters and just 11 per cent supporting them.

Turnout was very low. The vote had been open to all of Paris’ 1.38 million registered voters.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the vote as a success and repeated her vow to respect the outcome of the consultative referendum.

The voters’ “very clear message now becomes our guide”, she said. “With my team, we’ll follow up on their decision as I had pledged.”

Scattered around Paris, easy to locate and hire 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-hire scooters have also built a following among some Parisians who do not want or cannot 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.

Ms 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.

In the UK, private e-scooters are not banned, but the Metropolitan Police says e-scooters “come under the category of “powered transporters” and are therefore classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1988.”

“It’s not currently possible to get insurance for privately owned e-scooters, which means it’s illegal to use them on the road or in public spaces. If you’re using a private e-scooter you risk the vehicle being seized under S.165 Road Traffic Act 1988 for no insurance.”

Londoners are told they are not allowed to carry e-scooters on London Underground. Some continue to use them on the road despite the risk of seizure.

Transport for London has a rental scooter scheme which it launched in Spring 2020.

The Mayor of London’s office has been asked for comment.

Read more:
Paris bans e-scooters after mini referendum, could London be next?

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