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15 Minute City With No e-Scooters?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Early in 2023 the a host of e-scooter companies will have to renew their licences to operate in Paris, but the city is considering revoking them instead, which would take up to 15k scooters off the streets of Paris.

The e-scooter companies in question are Lime, Dott, and Tier, and their licenses to operate in the French capital will be up for renewal in February. Not having their licenses renewed would be a blow to these companies, and so they are understandably trying to address the safety concerns that are leading the metaphorical guillotine raised over their activities.

The concerns centre on the increase of accidents with e-scooters. The number of accidents in Paris have increased from 247 in the first 8 months of 2021 to 337 during the same period of 2022. This increase of accidents is within the context of more stringent regulation, which the city imposed in 2020. After the rather chaotic introduction of scooters in 2018 the city limited operators to three, those mentioned above, limited their speed to 20 km/hour, and enforced parking zones for the scooters.

In response the scooter companies have proposed adjustments to the regulation that, as Lime public affairs director Garance Lefevre said, would make Paris “the city with the strictest scooter regulation in the world”.

Personal Comment:

In 2020 the same year Paris clamped down on e-scooters, they announced their ambition to become a 15-minute city. The idea, proposed in 2016 by Carlos Moreno, is to design cities and neighbourhoods in such a way that all the things needed are only 15 minutes away by walking.

This redesign of urban planning aims to scale cities after people, making things local, accessible, and more sustainable. On first blush e-scooters are a great part of such a strategy. Quick, quiet, and significantly more sustainable than a private vehicle, they seem an obvious ingredient to the 15-minute city just like bikes or other small electric transport solutions.

The question mark that now hangs over e-scooters is all about safety. It could be phrased as a question: e-scooters have benefits, but at what cost? A 15-minute city might be possible without e-scooters, however, I think there may well be solutions. Greater regulation is one route, but not the only, or I think the most effective. Tel Aviv, as we reported on some time ago, is focusing on building infrastructure specifically for micromobililty. Hopefully Paris will mix greater regulation with investment in infrastructure that supports micromobilty and greater human focused urban planning.

Written by Joshua Bronson,
RISE Mobility & Systems