PARIS: France increased the minimum age for using an electric scooter from 12 to 14 on Wednesday ahead of a weekend vote in Paris on whether to ban rental of the devices.
The government unveiled a new regulatory plan for e-scooters on Wednesday increasing the age limit as well as hiking fines for riding on them with another person from 35 euros to 135 ($150).
“The explosion in use (of scooters) has come with an increase in the number of accidents. It´s a cause for worry,” Transport Minister Clement Beaune told a press conference, adding that one in five accidents in Paris involved two people sharing an e-scooter.
The new rules will cover all scooters -- privately owned and free-floating ones for rent via apps such as Lime, Dott or Tier which are now available in more than 200 towns across France, Beaune said.
Parisians are to be asked on Sunday to vote in a referendum organised by city authorities on whether to ban free-floating e-scooters. Fans 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 in a bid to address complaints by other road users and pedestrians. Beaune, an ally of centrist President Emmanuel Macron 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 (on Sunday) that will be watched by a lot of other towns in France and overseas,” Beaune told the Europe 1 radio station. “I find it a shame that we have caricatured and dumbed down the debate.