Europe

Electric scooters: France introduces new rules to 'restore tranquillity'

A woman rides a dock-free electric scooter in a Paris street in September 2019 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new e-scooters rules are designed to "restore a sense of tranquillity" for pedestrians

France is bringing in new rules for the use of electric scooters following hundreds of incidents involving the vehicles, including several deaths.

From Saturday, riders will be required to be at least 12 and will not be able to ride their scooter on the pavement.

The two-wheeled vehicles' top speed will also be capped by next year.

E-scooters, which can travel at more than 50km/h (30mph), are growing in popularity, in part because of their low environmental impact.

Junior Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said in a statement the new rules would encourage "more responsible use... and restore a sense of tranquillity for pedestrians, in particular the most vulnerable: the elderly, children and handicapped people".

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Media captionThe electric scooter scheme taking over Paris

Other rules coming into force include:

  • Riding on the pavement will be prohibited unless in designated areas, and then at walking speed only
  • Only one rider will be allowed per device, and no mobile phone use will be allowed
  • Users cannot go against the traffic flow and must use cycle paths where available
  • Riders will not be allowed to wear headphones while on their scooter
  • By next July, the scooters' top speed will be capped at 25km/h
  • Users riding on permitted faster roads must wear a helmet and high-visibility clothing
  • E-scooters will be banned completely on country roads

Any infringement will be punished by a fine of €135 (£116), and up to €1,500 for going over the speed limit.

Last weekend, a 25-year-old man was killed and a young woman seriously injured after the scooter they were riding was struck by a car in the south-western city of Bordeaux.

At least five other scooter deaths have been reported in France, including in the capital Paris and its suburbs and the eastern city of Reims.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Employees of bicycle-sharing service Lime fish an abandoned e-scooter out of the River Seine

Some 15,000 scooters are available for hire in Paris.

Dumped scooters have also become a significant problem in the city, with many being found in the city's parks and squares.

A ban on parking the dockless scooters on pavements has largely gone unheeded despite the threat of an €35 fine.

Some are also being thrown in the River Seine, leading some firms to salvage discarded scooters to try to recycle them where possible.

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