Residents of Paris are being asked to vote on whether e-scooter rental schemes should be banned in the city.
A referendum has been called by the city hall asking people: “Do we or don’t we continue with free-floating rental scooters?”
The vote is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 2, and could see 15,000 e-scooters removed from the city’s streets.
The city mayor Anne Hidalgo said she is leaning towards the ban but will let Parisians decide on the issue, describing it as “a very simple question”.
E-scooter rental company Lime, one of only three operators allowed to run in the city, has come under fire from Paris officials after offering free 10-minute rides to users who register to vote, The Guardian reports.
Lime users received emails in February asking to “prove you’re registered to vote and get a free 10-minute ride, on us.”
David Belliard, the Green deputy mayor in charge of transport and public spaces, tweeted that Lime was trying to “buy voters”.
He later said the move did not break the law because the vote had been called by city hall and was not subject to the same legislation as a municipal election.
But he suggested it was not “civic” for Lime to have offered minutes as an incentive.
A ban would make Paris an exception among major cities but could encourage European counterparts to follow suit.
The referendum will not bring an end to use of privately owned e-scooters, also hugely popular in Paris. Hidalgo told Le Parisien, they are “not a problem”.
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Shared e-scooters were initially introduced in 2018, but authorities later reduced the number of schemes in operation following complaints from citizens, resulting in only three operators being allowed to run scooters in the city.
Last year, news emerged that councillors in Paris were pushing to end the current shared scooter schemes in the city due to safety concerns.
This prompted the micromobility operators in the French capital – Lime, Dott and Tier – to propose a series of stringent new safety measures, which would make Paris “the city with the strictest scooter regulation in the world”, according to Lime’s public affairs director Garance Lefevre.
These measures include user age verification, vehicle registration plates, bans for repeat offenders, and financing of adapted e-scooters for disabled users.