Paris bans e-scooters: a sensible move?

Voters in Paris on Sunday voted by a clear majority of 89 percent to stop e-scooter rentals. E-scooter users have caused many accidents and dangerous situations in the city. However, only 7.45 percent of eligible voters came out to cast their ballots. Europe’s press discusses whether the ban makes sense.

Libération (FR) /

A victory over brutal capitalism

Libération says the result shows that

“democracy is stronger than money. The operators had tried to influence the vote with practices that come close to vote buying. Young scooter users may not have rushed to the polling stations en masse, but neither did the old grumblers. ... Since her election as mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo has pursued a bold policy to reduce the role of the car, which occupies 80 percent of public space even though it only accounts for 20 percent of transport. Combating the anarchic development of e-scooters is part of the same vision: rejecting the clout of lobbies and the brutality of capitalism. And above all defending the weakest: in this case, pedestrians.”

Eve Szeftel
Le Point (FR) /

Democratically and ecologically backward

The vote was not in keeping with the times, Le Point complains:

“According to journalists present at the polling stations on Sunday, this ‘face to face’ referendum mobilised above all an elderly population that makes very little use of such services. This is grist to the mill of the critics of gerontocracy. ... The result also contradicts the policy pursued by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo since her election victory in 2014. She has reduced the space dedicated to cars and promoted soft mobility. By calling Parisians to the polls on an issue that has already been clearly decided, the Socialist is depriving herself of an alternative to internal combustion vehicles.”

Kévin Badeau
El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Relevant only with minimum turnout

Referendums are not a democratic cure-all, warns El Periódico de Catalunya:

“Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to extend such referendums to other public issues. The result was overwhelming. Eighty-nine percent of those who came out to vote (103,000) voted against e-scooters. ... 103,000 votes is a lot, but it’s only eight percent of the electorate. ... Referendums are controversial. And when it comes to fundamental issues on which society is divided, they’re also risky. The Scottish referendum — no to independence — didn’t resolve the problem. And the majority of the British population now regrets the vote on Brexit. ... On local and reversible issues they are more interesting. ... But for them to be effective, to pass from being consultative to binding, a minimum turnout should be fixed.”

Joan Tapia
Der Standard (AT) /

Take the operators to task

Der Standard asks how the same problem could be dealt with better in other cities:

“In Vienna, too, e-scooters are a constant source of conflict. ... Too many users fail to comply with the regulations, speeding on pavements or parking in such a way that it’s impossible to get by. ... Tightening the laws — for example with a parking ban on pavements — and appealing to the riders’ common sense would be a good start. Ultimately, however, it’s the operators like Lime and Tier who can do most to remedy the problem. They have the technical means to slow down the scooters in hotspots. And they can reward rule-abiding riders while punishing reckless ones. This is entirely in their interest to prevent a fiasco like the one in Paris.”

Nicolas Dworak
The Independent (GB) /

E-scooters as a scapegoat for failed policymaking

The Independent says it was wrong of the mayor of Paris to hold a referendum on the e-scooter issue:

“If Parisians find e-scooters annoying, then they are annoyed by a failure of policymaking, not by the very idea of an e-scooter. It should be made harder to abandon them, to chuck them in a river, or for drunk tourists to make menaces of themselves on them. But the direction of travel is abundantly clear. The car, a truly magnificent invention, is a menace to modern city life. ... Policy issues of immense intricacy and complexity are not solved, or indeed improved, by asking the people a simple question and getting a simple answer. Has the mayor of Paris been paying no attention to British politics at all?”

Tom Peck