Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Parisians attempt to reclaim the streets amid electric scooter crackdown

Families affected by scooter accidents are pressing for tighter controls as companies vie to dominate a multi-billion dollar industry

Electric scooters lie on the pavement in Paris. AFP
Electric scooters lie on the pavement in Paris. AFP

Two families in Paris are launching a fightback against electric scooter companies operating in their city, saying the battery-powered vehicles have disrupted streets and caused injury and distress to their loved ones.

Arnaud Kielbasa and Jean-René Albertin have said they will lodge a complaint with the French Ministry of Transport next week as a backlash mounts against the hire companies because of injuries to pedestrians and the clutter they leave on the streets.

Mr Kielbasa and Mr Albertin decided to mount a resistance after their partners were both knocked down in the streets by so-called “trottinettes” in May this year.

Mr Kielbasa’s girlfriend Beronique and 7-week-old daughter were hit by the driver of one electric scooter while using a pedestrian crossing.

His infant daughter suffered head trauma as a result of the collision.

After the incident, Mr Kielbasa made a complaint to the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, attacking the lax regulation which has allowed electric scooter hire companies to flourish in the city over the past year.

Mr Albertin is the husband of pianist Isabelle Van Brabant, who played for the Opera Garnier before being knocked down by a motorised scooter in Paris.

She suffered a double fracture in her right arm and may never play the piano again.

The two episodes prompted Mr Kielbasa and Mr Albertin to form the Philanthropic Association for Action Against Urban Anarchy and Vector Incivility (APACAUVI), to campaign against what they called the “anarchic development of electric scooters”.

A petition shared on Facebook has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures demanding an end to the “scooter scandal.”

After the death of a scooter rider in June, mayor Hidalgo unveiled an action plan to counter rising numbers of accidents involving scooters.

Measures which came into force in July included banning people from parking electric scooters on pavements.

A fine of €135 (Dh553) for anyone caught riding on the pavement was also announced alongside a speed limit of 20 km/hr.

A spokesperson for Lime, the largest e-scooter rental company operating in the French capital, told The National the company is "pleased with and encouraged by the measures announced by the French government."

One in ten Parisians said they had made use of the electric scooters and it is estimated there are now more than 20,000 vehicles in circulation in the city.

Mayor Hidalgo predicted that number could double by the end of 2019.

The swift rise of electric scooter hire in cities across Europe has exposed outdated traffic and vehicle laws, forcing municipalities and councils to enact new legislation in order to keep up with the latest developments in personal transportation technology.

The global market for electric scooters could be worth between $40 and $50 billion (Dh147 and Dh184 billion) by 2025, according to research published in May by Boston Consulting group.

The city’s socialist mayor, whose party has won every mayoral election since 2001, will also have to put residents at ease as competition between venture capitalists feeds into the rising discontent surrounding the scooters.

Updated: August 7, 2019 02:53 PM

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