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Parisians overwhelmingly vote to expel e-scooters from their streets

Scooters are parked in Paris, Friday, March 31, 2023.
Christophe Ena
/
AP
Scooters are parked in Paris, Friday, March 31, 2023.

PARIS — Parisians have overwhelmingly voted to banish the French capital's ubiquitous for-hire e-scooters from their streets, in a mini-referendum the mayor said sent a "very clear message."

The 15,000 opinion-dividing mini-machines could now vanish from central Paris at the end of August when the city's contracts with the three operators expire.

The question that City Hall asked voters in its citywide mini-referendum on Sunday was: "For or against self-service scooters in Paris?"

The result wasn't close. City Hall said on its website about 103,000 people voted, with 89% rejecting e-scooters and just 11% supporting them.

Turnout was very low. The vote had been open to all of Paris' 1.38 million registered voters.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the vote as a success and repeated her vow to respect the outcome of the consultative referendum.

The voters' "very clear message now becomes our guide," she said. "With my team, we'll follow up on their decision as I had pledged."

Scattered around Paris, easy to locate and hire with a downloadable app and relatively cheap, the scooters are a hit with tourists who love their speed and the help-yourself freedom they offer.

In the five years since their introduction, following in the wake of shared cars and shared bicycles, for-hire scooters have also built a following among some Parisians who don't want or can't afford their own but like the option to escape the Metro and other public transport.

But many Parisians complain that e-scooters are an eyesore and a traffic menace, and the micro-vehicles have been involved in hundreds of accidents.

Hidalgo and some of her deputies campaigned to banish the "free floating" rental flotilla — so called because scooters are picked up and dropped off around town at their renters' whim — on safety, public nuisance and environmental cost-benefit grounds before the capital hosts the Olympic Games next year.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press