France to ban electric scooters from sidewalks

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a dock-free electric scooter Lime-S by California-based bicycle sharing service Lime displayed on their launch day in Paris, France, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government plans to ban electric scooters from sidewalks and will require riders to use bike lanes or roads, the transport minister said on Tuesday.

Elisabeth Borne told parliament that a new law on mobility, set to be presented in coming weeks, will create a new category in traffic regulations for electric scooters - called “trottinettes” in French - to make sure that local authorities can regulate their use.

“We cannot let these devices that move at 20 to 30 kilometers an hour jeopardize the security of pedestrians on the sidewalks,” Borne told parliament.

In the past months, two Californian scooter operators - Lime [UBER.UL] and Bird - have put hundreds of electric scooters on the roads in Paris, where they compete with two Chinese-run dockless bicycle sharing schemes and the city-operated Velib bike scheme.

Sales of electric scooters have also boomed country-wide as many suburban commuters buy the scooters to get from their home or office to train or metro stations and take the lightweight scooters with them to work.

In 2017, more than 100,000 electric scooters were sold, according to the French Micro Mobility Federation.

Reporting by Simon Carraud and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Matthew Mpoke Bigg