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France’s ‘New Mobility’ Law Tackles It All

Ride hailing, congestion charges, the gig economy, scooter sharing – Any one of these issues is enough on their own to create a major headache for regulators. Now imagine trying to address all of them at once... [1]

Last month, the French Parliament approved a set of new sustainable transport laws that represents the first major overhaul of mobility policies in France since 1982. The bill is far-reaching and tries to achieve the three aims of sustainable transport, introduce innovation and digitalization, and improve intra-city transport links – all without reigniting a popular uprising (such as the Yellow Jacket protests of last year).

For a single set of legislation, the Law for the Orientation of Mobility (LOM) tackles an incredibly broad range of prickly issues relevant to new and future mobility. These include:

  • Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) – all municipalities will have the power to create their own LEZs, which may automatically kick in when air quality measurements fall below a certain standard
  • Gig economy – while not classifying workers in the gig economy, such as Uber and Deliveroo drivers, as employees, the bill attempts to strengthen their rights by introducing a voluntary charter for those companies operating in the sector. Among other things, the charter focuses on the right for workers to disconnect from a platform and transparency of cost.
  • Micro-mobility integration – requires new buses to have the capacity to carry at least 5 bikes and train stations to provide safe bike parking infrastructure.
  • EV chargers – all new and renovated parking areas on both public and private land (with more than 10 parking spaces) must install ‘pre-equipment’ for EV charging points. For existing non-residential car parks (with more than 20 spaces) a charging point must be provided for every 20 spaces available.
  • Regulating free-floating mobility – introduces minimum age and safety requirements, such as speed limits, on free-floating services like scooters and bikes. It also allows local authorities to further license and regulate them, including specifying where they may be used and banning them completely.

The LOM also includes important changes to other areas such as public transport, rail and air transport, infrastructure and disability transport. See the source articles for more details.

 

Personal comments

While none of the individual approaches to regulating new mobility areas in the LOM appears to be novel, what’s noteworthy is just how many of these ‘hot potatoes’ France has managed to address in a single piece of legislation. On the bright side, one could view this as a positive story demonstrating that even late-runners can catch up to the pace of technology (prior to this, France didn’t even have a legal category for regulating electric scooters) if they just make a big enough stride. However, it does also reinforce the commonly held view in the tech world now that traditional approaches to policymaking – with major overhauls happening several decades apart and very little incremental updates in between – is not up to the task of keeping up with the pace of technological development.

 

Written by Bobby Chen, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2019-11-19. French Parliament ready to approve new mobility law.

2. 2019-11-20. France revamps transport rules while trying to avoid public backlash.