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September 5, 2023

Paris Implements Ban on Electric Scooters: Democracy or Political Move?

A safety crackdown on rising injuries and fatalities, response to a rising number of people being injured

In a surprising turn of events, Paris, once a pioneer in embracing electric scooters, has now become one of the first capitals to ban them completely. This prohibition follows a recent vote in which nearly 90% of participants favored the ban, although the voter turnout was dismally low at under 8%. The question that arises is whether this ban is a genuine exercise in democracy or if there are deeper political motivations at play.

As someone who passionately advocates for traditional cycling, the proliferation of electric scooters, often encroaching on cycling lanes, has left me somewhat perturbed. Four decades of campaigning for dedicated cycle paths now seem threatened by this new form of motorized personal transport. Furthermore, as a father, I've witnessed firsthand the perilous situations created by scooters zipping down sidewalks, necessitating urgent evasive maneuvers. A close friend's painful experience, a broken rib resulting from a collision with an e-scooter in Paris, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers they pose.

However, it's essential to scrutinize the political landscape surrounding this ban. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a member of the Socialist party, endured a dismal 1.75% vote share in the last presidential election. In a bid to regain political standing, she championed the anti-e-scooter sentiment. Paradoxically, it was Hidalgo herself who introduced on-street scooter rentals in 2018. Yet, she suddenly transformed into the voice of those who find e-scooters profoundly vexing.

At the outset of this year, Hidalgo unveiled her masterstroke: a public referendum. Although personally against the ban, she pledged to respect the people's choice, no matter the outcome. The referendum quietly took place in April with minimal fanfare, attracting only a fraction of the Parisian electorate. Unsurprisingly, the majority voted in favor of the ban, primarily driven by older citizens who vote regularly and harbor deep-seated aversions to e-scooters.

With the ban now in full effect, tourists, late-night revelers, and some commuters are left lamenting the absence of rental scooters on Parisian streets. However, it's worth noting that privately owned e-scooters remain unaffected. In many ways, this moment feels like the quiet exit of horses from the metropolis a century ago, replaced by the combustion engine. Their absence may not be permanent, and it's conceivable that they could make a comeback. As Paris grapples with this ban, it remains to be seen whether it's a victory for democracy or a strategic political maneuver by a determined mayor seeking to regain her footing on the political stage.

Josefina Dipaolo
Josefina Dipaolo
Content Writer at TechNews180
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