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Boon or blight? E-scooters around the world

The for-hire e-scooters that have become ubiquitous in Paris and other cities worldwide will be banned in the French capital on September 1.

It is the biggest metropolis to remove the app-based devices that first zoomed onto streets in 2018, but many other cities have taken action on the vehicles that can inspire love or loathing.

ALSO READ: Once a pioneer in e-scooters, Paris contemplates banning them

While users hail them as eco-friendly ways to avoid gridlock, detractors consider them as an unsightly menace with the power to maim and kill.

Here is a look at the state of play in other cities worldwide:

Paris: the pioneer

The French capital was an early adopter of e-scooters in 2018, when the pavements were soon strewn with discarded rental devices from the first operator, Lime.

After an uproar over the anarchy and a number of fatal accidents, the city clamped down, reducing the number of operators to three (Dott, Lime and Tier) and the number of scooters to 15,000.

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For privately owned scooters, the minimum age for riders is 12 (the government wants to raise that to 14), but the Paris rental operators said last November they would step up enforcement of a minimum age of 18 — after city officials warned their licenses were in jeopardy.

They also must be parked in designated spots and riders are not allowed to go over 10 kilometres per hour in most parts of Paris — but many do anyway.

In April, residents voted in a referendum to ban rental scooters, a move that will not impact privately owned devices.

Barcelona and Montreal: outright bans

A few cities before Paris have taken the same drastic measures with an outright ban.

Barcelona outlawed rental scooters on public roads in 2018. When the German firm Wind launched an electric scooter sharing programme in the city that year, within hours police removed the vehicles from the streets.

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Two years later Montreal outlawed all electric scooters, rental and private, from circulating on any public roads and cycle paths, complaining that four times out of five they were discarded on the street instead of being parked in designated spots.

But recently the city has allowed Bird Canada to deploy 200 of the vehicles in a park, as part of a new experiment with strict rules of use.

Copenhagen: banned then unbanned

Copenhagen also banned rental e-scooters in 2020 but brought them back a year later, albeit under strict conditions including an outright ban on parking in the city centre and the requirement for users to wear helmets.

London: treading carefully

Across the Channel, London has shown greater caution with regard to devices the city’s police chief called “death traps”.

Only rental e-scooters with specific safety features are allowed in the capital. Privately owned devices are illegal.

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Riders must be 18 or over and have a full or provisional driving licence.

The scooters have a speed limit of 12.5 miles per hour (20 kph) and their lights remain on while in use.

Rome: clamping down

After a number of crashes and near-misses involving the two-wheelers, including one notorious attempt by two US tourists to ride down the famed Spanish Steps, Rome vowed to impose order on its booming e-scooter rental market.

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On September 1 the city will introduce new rules to curb usage, notably in the historic centre where speed will be limited to 6 kph in pedestrian areas and no parking on pavements.

Singapore: stiff penalties

Singapore has some of the toughest penalties for reckless scooter riders, with those caught careening along sidewalks facing up to three months in jail and a fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars ($1,500).