Scooters from Paris make ‘Aliyah’ to Tel Aviv streets


Banned in Paris but welcomed in Tel Aviv: electric scooters embark on their ‘aliyah’ journey, trading the boulevards of Paris for the beaches of Tel Aviv.

September 1 marked a significant shift for Parisians as their streets, once dotted with rentable electric scooters, stood scooter-free. Many rejoiced, seeing the scooters as pedestrian obstacles, but others felt a void. Le Monde reported that following an April referendum, where a significant 89% voted against the scooters despite a meager 7.5% turnout, Paris became the pioneering European city to enforce such a ban.

Companies were quick to adapt. As reported by The Guardian, scooters are now being dispatched to cities across Europe and beyond. Dott, for instance, has set its sights as far away as Tel Aviv.

Tier is redirecting its fleet mainly to Germany and Warsaw, while Lime’s scooters are en route to Lille, London, Copenhagen, and other German cities.

An orthodox Jewish man rides an electric scooter in central Tel Aviv. August 7, 2023. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Parisians wanted electric scooters gone

The backstory? Paris’s decision on April 2 to ban electric scooters from September 1. This followed a public vote seeking to declutter the streets. Despite the strong support for the ban, evidenced by the 89% voting in favor as per the city hall’s Twitter announcement, e-scooter companies remained optimistic about a potential compromise, citing the low voter participation.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo stood firm on the referendum’s result, ensuring the cessation of electric scooter rentals in the city come September. However, e-scooter companies, pointing to the turnout, hoped to broker a middle ground.

French Transport Minister, Clement Beaune, criticized the April referendum, terming it “a massive democratic flop.” Parisians had been zipping around on these app-accessible scooters since 2018. By 2020, in response to public grievances, the city reduced licensed operators to three and introduced regulations such as speed limits and designated parking zones, mirroring rules found in other cities worldwide. Companies also proposed user age verifications, identifiable license plates, and rider limits.

Tragically, 2021 saw 24 scooter-related fatalities in France, including one in Paris, along with 459 e-scooter accidents in the capital, three of which were deadly. Audrey Cordier, a practicing physician, emphasized the dangers they posed. However, some Parisians, like Pierre Waeckerle, believed in stricter rules over an outright ban, asserting the need for a balanced approach to urban mobility.