Parisians have voted to ban rental electric scooters in their city, dealing a blow to scooter operators and a triumph for road safety campaigners.
Almost 90% of votes cast on Sunday favoured a ban the battery-powered devices, official results showed. But under 8% of those eligible turned out to vote.
The referendum was called in response to a rising number of people being injured and killed on e-scooters in the French capital.
Of the 1.38 million people on the city’s electoral register, just over 103,000 took part, according to offical figures. Of these, over 91,300 voted against the scooters.
Paris was one of the first cities to adopt the electric vehicles – but critics argue they were causing more harm than good.
There was growing concern with the way some people were driving the scooters – weaving through traffic, dodging pedestrians on pavements, and getting up to speeds of 17mph (27km/h).
Riders often did not wear helmets and children as young as 12 could legally hire the e-scooters.
There was also criticism that groups of parked e-scooters were cluttering pavements.
In 2021, a 31-year-old Italian woman was killed after being hit by an e-scooter carrying two people. She fell and hit her head on the pavement, suffering a cardiac arrest.
But operators of the e-scooters argued the vehicles made up a small proportion of overall traffic accidents in the city.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called the referendum, where voters could say if they were for or against free-floating e-scooters. Privately-owned vehicles were not part of the vote.
The pro-cycling Socialist leader supported a ban and announced the vote in January to allow the people to decide.
“I’m committed to respecting the choice of voters, purely and simply,” she told reporters as she placed her own vote.
“It’s very expensive – five euros ($5.40) for 10 minutes – it’s not very sustainable, and above all, it’s the cause of a lot of accidents,” she added.
Fearing that their mainly young customers would not turn out to vote, the three main operators – Lime, Dott and Tier – used social media to urge people to vote in their favour. They also offered free rides all day on Sunday.
New laws introduced in 2019 – including a requirement to wear high visibility clothing and not ride against the traffic flow – imposed a fine of €135 ($146), and up to €1,500 for going over the speed limit.
Meanwhile, dumped scooters had also become a significant problem in Paris, with many being found in the city’s parks and squares. A ban on parking the dockless scooters on pavements largely went unheeded despite the threat of a €35 fine.