Paris forces e-scooters to slow down after pedestrian death

Speed restrictions are 'a first step, but nowhere near enough', says one official in the French capital

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03: A guest wears a white shirt, sunglasses, a black and white polka dots skirt, a black bag, white sneakers, and is riding electric a scooter Lime-S from the bike sharing service company "Lime", outside Valentino, during Paris Fashion Week -Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2019/2020, on July 03, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

E-scooter riders in Paris are being restricted to slower speed limits after the death of a pedestrian in a collision with one of the vehicles.

Rental scooter speeds will be automatically capped at 10kph when they enter 700 areas of the French capital, including near tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.

A 32-year-old Italian woman was killed in June when she was hit by a scooter in a pedestrian area, prompting demands for tighter regulation of the vehicles.

David Belliard, who is adjunct mayor for transportation and public space in Paris, said the new restrictions were “a first step, but nowhere near enough” and that more slow-speed zones were needed.

Prime areas of concern are where pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders share spaces such as on the hugely popular banks of the River Seine, long stretches of which are free of cars.

Every Paris district will supply a list of desired slow zones over the coming weeks, which would be passed on to the operators, Mr Belliard said.

Scooters run by three rental companies, Dott, Tier and Lime, are automatically slowed to half their normal top speed when they enter the designated slow-speed areas.

Parks, gardens, streets near schools, squares in front of public buildings and places of worship, pedestrian streets and busy shopping districts are among the first areas to see the slowdown orders issued.

Paris city authorities told the three private operators that it would renew their licences only if they made progress in introducing slower speed limits, and ensured users parked the scooters in designated areas instead of dumping them on streets and pavements at the end of the rental period.

To address the parking issue, the operators now require users to take a picture proving that they have dropped off the scooter in the right place, while a joint 12-person task force to pick up scooters left randomly in the street has been set up.

Politicians across Europe are grappling with how best to integrate e-scooters into cities.

Italy is looking at reduced speed limits and compulsory helmets.

In London, e-scooters can be rented as part of a trial scheme but use of the privately owned vehicles is mostly illegal. The trial includes speed limits of 25kph and the e-scooters are prohibited from pavements.

In Germany, riders need a moped licence to use an e-scooter.

In France, new laws were introduced after a number of riders died in accidents. Now, users must be 12 or older and adhere to a 25kph speed limit.

Riding on pavements is banned and travelling on some roads requires high-vis clothing and a helmet.

Updated: November 16th 2021, 1:45 PM