E-scooters under scrutiny following Paris ban
Fleet safety experts have urged employers to manage the risk of e-scooter use by staff, as cities assess safety issues of the electric two-wheelers.
The future of free-floating electric scooters in urban transport and Mobility as a Service solutions is under scrutiny after Paris voted to ban e-scooters from its streets.
Only 8% of Parisians actually voted, but a commanding 89% majority was clear that it wants to outlaw ‘les trottinettes’.
Rental operator reaction
Tier, one of the e-scooter hire companies in Paris, said it was disappointed with the outcome of the vote, and suggested that the very low turn-out of voters meant the majority of Parisians do not have a problem with the electric two-wheelers.
“With a presence in more than 560 cities and communities in 31 countries, we know that the decision of Paris goes against the global trend, which sees countries and cities around the world embracing low carbon micro-mobility,” said a spokesperson for Tier.
“Moving away from shared e-scooters also means that Paris is isolating itself from the rest of the world with major capitals like Washington, Madrid, Rome, London, Berlin or Vienna that are all implementing policies supporting e-scooters as ways to reduce unnecessary car usage.”
Capital cities take action
However, Paris is not the first city to outlaw e-scooters. In 2020, Copenhagen banned them from being parked in many areas of the city, and when it relaxed the ban the following year the Danish capital imposed much tighter restrictions over where the two-wheelers can be hired and parked, with fines for rental companies for any abandoned e-scooters.
Following the Paris vote, Brussels has also fired a warning shot over the bows of e-scooter operators, although it has ruled out an outright ban.
Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister for Mobility, said: “If within a year, there is no improvement in terms of road safety and respect for other users, stricter measures will be considered.”
She added that she was ‘concerned’ by the road safety figures for e-scooter travel.
Figures from the UK show a rapid rise in e-scooter accidents. In 2021 there were 1,352 collisions (2020: 460) and 1,434 casualties (2020: 484) involving e-scooters, as well as 10 deaths, although these incidents included private e-scooters, which are illegal in the UK.
Last October, Transport for London extended its trial of e-scooters until May 2024 in order to collect more data and test new technology, such as audible alerts to improve safety for pedestrians.
Will Norman, London's Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: "With the right regulations that prioritise safety, rental e-scooters can help ensure a green, sustainable future for London."
Fleet e-scooter training
Fleet driver training company Drivetech has developed educational videos and online training modules for travel by micromobility, and advised businesses that it’s more important than ever to plan ahead for the rise in e-scooter use. It called on employers to put policies in place to minimise rider risk.
Nick Butler, director at Drivetech, said: “Employers may not know that they have a duty of care to drivers in their employ, whatever mode of transport they use to get from A to B. Now is the time for businesses to make sure they fulfil their obligations to staff in managing the risks e-scooters present to employees and vulnerable road users.”
These growing pressures have led leading e-scooter hire operators, Dott, Lime, Superpedestrian, Tier Mobility and Voi to publish 10 recommendations to help cities integrate shared electric vehicles. Their suggestions include fleet sizes, speeds capped at 20-25km/h and ample parking for e-scooters that are not in use. They also recommend that any increase in fleet size should be dependent directly on a hire operators’ performance in keeping streets tidy.
According to Dott: “With dedicated bike lanes, clear parking guidelines, and in-app safety tips for riders, getting around by e-scooter is a no-brainer. It’s a sustainable, affordable and efficient way to get from A to B.”
Images: Shutterstock, Dott, Lime, Superpedestrian, Tier Mobility and Voi