June 7, 2023
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And the Parisians? They have mixed emotions.

“They’re useful at night when you’re coming out of a party and miss the last metro home,” said Axel Ottow, 20, stepping out of a metro station. But while he said he used them on rare occasions when no better option was available, he pointed to a commonly cited downside: he found them “unsafe to ride”.

When Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo opened up the scooter rental market to 16 operators in 2019, the city seemed to have all the hallmarks of a business goldmine.

Its small geographical size compared to Los Angeles, Berlin or London was ideal for short distance travel. Many cycle paths had already been installed, providing paths away from cars. And the tourists, who turned out to be big customers, were able to take advantage of additional tours starting from the Louvre and going to L’Arc de Triomphe.

In 2022, Paris recorded around 20 million trips on 15,000 rental scooters, making it one of the largest markets in the world.

But at least initially, the machines created chaos, with many cyclists zooming where and how they wanted – on sidewalks, on one-way streets, weaving between cars.

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