Where until a couple of months ago the Eiffel Tower was the most notable in Paris, has now changed rapidly to the electric scooters. Big companies as Lime and Bird are widely represented in the streets of the French capital. If this will enrich the city or be a burden/nuisance is the question. So team Citysteps went to Paris. Looking for answers.
The electric scooter in numbers
The electric scooter made its first appearance in France in June 2018. Since then, there have been around 233,000 electric scooters sold as means of transportation by the French citizens. It soon became apparent that this would be the beginning of an electric scooter invasion. This was especially evident in the French capital. Six months ago, companies such as Lime and Bird settled in Paris for the first time. These American scooter sharing companies put around 20,000 scooters on the streets across Paris and soon conquered the streets. Figures from the companies show that more than two million journeys have taken place in the last six months. These journeys spread over 425,000 unique users. At the moment, Lime and Bird are the biggest players in Paris. But that doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones. So in total, there have taken place a lot more journeys than two million.
We started our research with the main consumers, the tourists. The first thing that we noticed was the enthusiasm among the consumers. They see it as a cheap alternative solution for transportation through the busy streets of Paris. This combined with the fun factor that comes with riding a scooter makes for the ultimate addition to a day in Paris. Mostly tourists from outside of Europe fall in love with the electric scooters because they’re often not yet available in their country. But not everything is loved about the electric scooters.
As with every innovation, there are always things the public doesn’t like and which can be improved. They’re however not the things you’d expect. At first glance you would think the public would be annoyed by the flood of electric scooters on every street corner, though that is nog the case. The tourists generally don’t like high prices of the scooters. The prices for renting an electric scooter quickly increase in Paris. Up until 10 euros per half hour. Besides the prices, some of them find it dangerous that the scooters are allowed to ride at full speed on the sidewalk. This could result in them knocking down unsuspecting pedestrians.
The municipality quickly resolved this last point. As of June 2019 electric scooters are prohibited from the sidewalks. They may only be parked on the sidewalk when not in use. Once boarded, the driver must proceed to the road as soon as possible/immediately to prevent getting a fine. Whether this policy actually works remains de question. Most of the tourists are uninformed in terms of the policy and the police officers rarely ever write the fines.
Between annoyance and ideal means of transport
It seems to be the ideal means of transport. You can get everywhere you need to be quick and easy. Also, tourists don’t have to go through the trouble of finding out what the best way of public transport is or having to pay a fortune on taxi’s. But a city doesn’t revolve around tourists only. Their citizens are equally as important of course. But a city is obviously not only about tourists, it is also about its inhabitants. In this case, the people of Paris, and they don’t like the scooters. Instead of walking quietly on the sidewalk, Parisians now also have to make sure they don’t get knocked over by such a scooter. They are also annoyed by all the scooters left behind on every street corner.
Scooters in the Netherlands
Despite the frustrations that Parisians had, we saw great potential in the scooters. We saw that the scooters provided great entertainment and added value among the tourists during their holidays, and we wanted to transfer this to the Netherlands. However, we knew that we would have to make some adjustments so it wouldn’t be chaos like in Paris. In the Netherlands, the scooters were not yet approved to be allowed on the road, so we chose to adapt the scooters. This makes us the first company in the Netherlands to have scooters for rent that are allowed on the road.