PARIS (Reuters) – An overwhelming majority of Parisians voted to ban electric scooters from the streets of the French capital on Sunday, in a non-binding referendum that city authorities have said they would follow.
The ban won between 85.77% and 91.77% of the votes in the 20 Paris districts that published results, according to the City of Paris website on what was billed as a rare “public consultation” and prompted long queues at ballot boxes around the city.
“I preferred to vote against, because in Paris it’s a mess,” railway worker Ibrahim Beutchoutak, 47, told Reuters TV. “The way it’s organised, the danger that it creates in Paris, the visual pollution, it’s not good.”
Cities worldwide are tightening regulations on e-scooters, limiting the number of operators as well as speed and where they can park.
In 2021, 24 people died in scooter-related accidents in France, including one in Paris. Last year, Paris registered 459 accidents with e-scooters and similar vehicles, including three fatal ones.
“In my work, we see a lot of road accidents caused by scooters, so we really see the negative effects,” general physician Audrey Cordier, 38, told Reuters after voting against the scooters.
Electric scooters accessed through smartphone apps have operated in Paris since 2018, but following complaints about their anarchic deployment, Paris in 2020 cut the number of operators to three.
It gave them a three-year contract, required that scooters’ speed be capped at 20 km/hour and imposed designated scooter parking areas. The current contracts will run until September.
Operators had offered further regulations, including checking users were over 18, fixing licence plates so police could identify traffic offenders and limiting to one passenger.
On Sunday, operators such as Tier and Lime sent free voucher codes to users to encourage them to vote against the ban.
Some voters said they would have rather had tighter regulations than an outright ban.
“I voted for (the scooters) because I’m against the rather binary choice we’re given in this referendum. I don’t want scooters to do whatever they wants on pavements, but banning them is not the priority,” Pierre Waeckerle, 35, said.
(Reporting by Michel Rose and Clotaire Achi; Editing by Josie Kao)