France is set to raise the minimum age to use an electric scooter from 12 to 14, its transport minister has said, ahead of a weekend vote in Paris on whether to ban the devices.
The government is poised to unveil a new regulation plan for e-scooters on Wednesday which will propose raising the age limit and increasing fines for two people riding at the same time from €35 to €135 ($150).
“We know that in one accident in five there were two users on the device,” Transport Minister Clement Beaune told the 20 Minutes newspaper.
“It’s important that we make it clear that they are not a toy.”
Free-floating e-scooters are available for rent via apps such as Lime, Dott or Tier in 200 towns across France and sharply divide opinion.
Voters in Paris are to be asked on Sunday to participate in a referendum organised by city authorities on whether to ban them.
Some users view them as a fun, affordable and emissions-free mode of transport, while critics say they are dangerous, often driven badly, and clutter up the capital’s already crowded streets.
Lower speed limits and dedicated parking zones have already been introduced.
Mr Beaune, an MP for President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party for Paris and an outspoken critic of Socialist Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, favours tighter regulation for scooters rather than an outright ban.
“It’s an important consultation that will be watched by a lot of other towns in France and overseas,” Mr Beaune told Europe 1 radio station.
“I find it a shame that we have caricatured and dumbed down the debate.
“Instead of a having it as ‘for’ or ‘against’, we could do ‘for, with rules’.”
Scooter operators are set to sign a charter on Wednesday as part of Mr Beaune’s regulation plan that would see them commit to work on improving safety, extending the life of batteries to at least five years, and recycling their products in France.
Updated: March 29, 2023, 9:39 AM