Five years ago, shared electric scooters came onto the scene with a promise to get people out of cars and onto green modes of transportation. Despite billions in VC money and plenty of hype, the future of micromobility companies hasn't yet arrived.

In cities like Paris, most people aren't replacing car trips with shared e-scooter jaunts in a meaningful way; the cost of riding scooters makes them an expensive option for last mile transit connections and equitable access; and the public disclosures of Bird and Helbiz have shown us that achieving Cities that allow shared e-scooter companies in their midsts are making it difficult for scooter companies to be sustainable.

There needs to be alternatives to cars for the sake of traffic flow. Is sharing e-scooters the answer to that? The introduction of shared micro mobility to cities has gained something.

Los Angeles and Paris were at the forefront of the e-scooter revolution. The former has a reputation of being a bit of a free-for-all with a laissez-faire capitalist regulatory approach. The latter has some of the strictest regulations in the game and is still considering banning shared e-scooters.

David Zipper is a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Taubman Center for State and Local Government. Paris is a great place to live. Scooters may be replacing forms of transportation that are more eco-friendly. LA is not the same as anywhere else. The car is so dominant that it is hungry for alternatives.

Despite that apparent hunger, two scooter operators recently exited the Los Angeles area due to a lack of favorable regulations and too much competition. Bird, Lime, Veo, Superpedestrian, Wheels, and Tuk Tuk are all in LA.

The fact that both cities have differing levels of regulation for e-scooters raises a question. Is the right market?

Paris: To ban or not to ban?

People wearing a protective facemasks, walk or ride their electric scooter past the statue of the Marechal Joffre with the Eiffel Tower on the background, in Paris, on May 19, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).

The statue of the Marechal Joffre is in Paris and people walk or ride their electric scooters past it. The photo was taken by THOMAS COEX/ AFP.

You would think shared e-scooters would thrive in Paris. The city is very dense. Most households don't own a car and don't use them a lot. The mayor of Paris is an advocate for the reclamation of public space from roads and vehicles for a 15 minute city. In her time in office, she has changed the look of the streets and opened bike lanes.

Paris is considering banning its 15,000 shared e-scooters as politicians from several parties call on the city to not renew the contracts of Lime, Dott and Tier. She is expected to make her decision any day now and there are some rumors that she already has.

Paris is an important market for the e-scooter industry, but the city has objected to the vehicles due to safety incidents.

In the past, Paris has responded to safety issues with strict regulations. Following the death of a person who was hit by a scooter in Paris last summer, the city put in place slow zones for scooters. The city turned into a slow zone with shared e-scooter speeds capped at just over 6 miles per hour.

The city is about to say goodbye to shared scooters forever despite the harsh regulations.

I was shocked. I felt appalled. I'm frustrated. The feelings I had when I first heard about the ban were similar. If there are accidents, what are you going to do? There are car accidents on a daily basis. You have complaints about scooters on the sidewalk. Better bike lanes should be built first.

Scooters may not be providing the value that cities need by limiting car usage.

scooter trips start every four seconds in the city and 90 percent of Lime's fleet in Paris is used daily. A total of 10 million rides were taken by all three operators, 85% of which were taken by Parisians. It was thought that could have replaced 1.6 million car trips. Was it possible that they did?

Men aged 18 to 29 with high educational levels are the majority of e-scooter users in Paris. The majority of riders shifted from cars to public transportation. Sharing scooters were found to be more likely to replace walking trips than other modes of transport.

These results can be found in other places. According to a survey among customers who were registered with five different shared e-scooter apps in Norway in the fall of 2021, e-scooters are most often replaced by walking. If the user is male, if the e-scooter is privately owned, and if the destination is poorly served by public transport, e-scooters will replace cars.

There is a goal to shift travelers away from cars. In Paris, most people wouldn't use a car because the city is easy to get around in. It may be that would-be car drivers and taxi riders need more time to get used to the idea of riding a scooter. Scooters may not be reliable for long journeys.

The average scooter trip length in Paris in July and November was 2.53 kilometers. You can't drive it in a place like Paris because it's too short.

Scooters are very popular in Paris. According to a September poll commissioned by Lime, Dott and Tier, most Parisians agree that e-scooters are part of the daily mobility of the city. The majority of respondents said they were satisfied with the number of self-service scooters on the streets of Paris, while a quarter said they would like to see more.

A recent petition launched by a Paris resident has gathered more than 19,000 signatures in opposition.

A ban would make Paris a global outlier, according to Lime's communications manager.

She said that no major city in the world banned shared e-scooters. The major global trend today is cities renewing their programs or even expanding them with more vehicles or larger service areas.

A number of measures have been put forward by Lime, Dott and Tier to address safety concerns and ensure a renewal of scooter licenses next year. A campaign to raise awareness about traffic laws is one of the proposals.

Paris may be unique in considering a blanket ban on scooters, but other places have recently shown an appetite for limiting scooters.

The person is Rebecca Bellan.

Los Angeles: City of Autos

A shared scooter parked on a sidewalk in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

A scooter is parked on a sidewalk in a Los Angeles neighborhood.

There are more wheels in this discussion. I am about to talk about the car. Buckle up, it's time to go.

If you asked me, I would say that we are all suffering for it, especially Angelenos. Cars and trucks powered by gas are notorious for blocking LA's arteries. Climate change and health issues are caused by them. A driver in an SUV hit me while I was looking for a ramen joint on the side walk. I said it was personal.

As an occasional driver and pedestrian who bellows, "I'm walkin' here!" in a vaguely New York accent, I feel sad when I see micro mobility operators bail on cities.

This isn't because I ride scooters frequently, and it's not because scooters are now rare, I can find Limes and Links on sidewalks and in the crooks of curbs. I want to see cars reined in in order to free up streets and reduce fumes. Given the recent exits and Bird's financial struggles, what does the future hold for scooters and the like?

It depends on who you are talking to. Lime claims that things have never been better in Tinseltown. Los Angeles is Lime's largest American market.

While acknowledging LA's drawbacks for scooters, the spokesman likened the future to a "WOW moment" that showed how "micro mobility is here to stay." Lime credited its local staff, work with city officials and investments in hardware for the apparently strong year, but the company did not reply when asked if its LA operations are currently profitable We don't get a lot of insight into Lime because it's private.

Lime might be an outlier. In order to return, Spin and Lyft had to strike new, longer-term deals with the local governments. The challenge with LA is that it is an open vendor market. Operators over-saturate the market, leading to an imbalance of vehicle supply to rider demand.

Re-entry would require a long-term arrangement for limited operators.

Santa Monica seems to be on board with this approach. Santa Monica wants to limit the number of scooter operators to just one and two.

There is a mixed reputation among cyclists in the Greater LA area. Efforts to promote cycling in South LA, North Hollywood and San Pedro have recently been announced. It isn't a revolution, but it could make the city safer for all lightweight modes of transportation.

LA's scooter-free-for-all seems destined for consolidation, leaving fewer operators with a lot of ground to cover. Unlike Paris, shared e-scooters don't seem to be at risk of being kicked out.

There is a person named Harri Weber.

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