August 19 2014

Self-Service Scooters are the Next Form of Communal Transportation in Paris?

The parisian family of environmentally-friendly vehicles could very well be enlarged! After the famous Vélib’, self-service bikes, and Autolib’, public electric car sharing service, Scootlib’is set to be the next to enlarge the ranks of alternatives for getting around the capital. Zoom with Scootlib’, Paris’ self-service scooters!

Self-Service Scooters

The City of Paris has expressed the desire to make it so that in several years, residents of the capital largely abandon their individual means of transport to circulate solely with those vehicles owned by the city. Following Velib’ and Autolib,’ enter Scootlib’. In order to meet their goal, what better than to propose the rental of the three types of vehicles most often used on the roads: bikes, cars, and scooters!

Scooters in San Francisco, California

Self-service stations of electric scooters already exist in two cities: San Francisco and Barcelona. In the Californian city, one hundred scooters have taken to the roads since September 2012, and 250 are parked in the seven neighborhoods of the Catalan capital since May 2013. But the Parisian project is even more ambitious: Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, wants 3,000 to 5,000 scooters, spread out in 700 stations across the city.  

The clientele targeted by Scootlib’: Teens and young working adults

The public targeted by the Scootlib’ initiative is essentially youth and young working adults, between 14 -16 years old and 35-40 years old respectively. These are the citizens who own a motorized scooter or who get around in the city using Velib’ or the metro. And the desire to use motorized scooters is increasing. It is important to note that 150,000 motorized two-wheelers currently circulate every day in Paris, even though there are only 80,000 parking places that can accommodate them. Scootlib’ could therefore be a good solution in response to this problem. This is especially true considering one particular burning issue circulating the news: the end of tolerance for sidewalk parking, which was voted by the Council of Paris on Dec. 17, 2013.

Scootlib’: At what price?

The rental price for scooters has been proposed at a variety of rates, oscillating between three and ten euros per hour in addition to a monthly subscription.  They will be equipped with adjustable helmets that are regularly disinfected. It will be possible, via computer or smartphone, to subscribe to the service, reserve available vehicles, and find empty or occupied spots.

Scootlib’: An accelerant for sustainable development

Beyond the practical side, the scooters proposed by Scootlib’ will be 100% electric, quiet, and non-polluting. They will therefore be a good alternative mode of transportation, helping to diminish the rising pollution in the capitalAnother advantage: Scootlib’ will help to relieve traffic. As a result, the service will help ease parisian traffic jams and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by their constant occurrence.

Clarification required

If the project seems ideal on paper, certain elements have yet to be spelled out, notably the type of scooter to be developed. Anne Hidalgo was struggling to choose between two models: 50 cm3 and 125 cm3. The first model would allow users 14 years old and up, who have obtained a road safety permit, to rent a Scootlib’. The second model, on the other hand, would not be accessible until the age of 16 and with the possession of an A1 permit.  

In order to answer the question of which model will be better received, a large survey of road-users’ opinions, notably those of parents of teenagers and of motorcycle and scooter associations is planned. Another key weakness in the plan is the issue of hygiene. The helmets used with Scootlib’ would have to be regularly cleaned, disinfected, and inspected. The scooters are set to be able to recharge in three hours and allow for the travel distance of 40-90 kilometers.

Potential problems in sight

Before seeing the light of day, the project must still overcome several obstacles. For example, the recharging time for a scooter, evaluated at three hours (compared with seven hours in San Francisco), is not compatible with its use by several successive riders.

Vandalized Vélib in Paris, France

It will also be necessary to manage the arrival of new, inexperienced scooter drivers in the capital. The Scootlib scooters will also have to be protected from vandalism, when it is a known fact that the Autolib’ cars are regularly dirtied by renters and that thousands of Vélib’ bikes are defaced or stolen every year. In order to respond to this crisis, scooters will have to be equipped with GPS. Finally, automobilists will, in all likelihood, rebel against the elimination of parking places to make room for Scootlib’ stations. Therefore, the path towards the implementation of Scootlib’ is already difficult. And you, do you think that Scootlib’ is a good idea?

How should cities balance the benefits of introducing more sustainable methods of transportation with the potential problems these new methods create? Are there rentable scooters in your city? Are they successful? Why or why not?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Katelyn Hewett

Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year writing classes, and volunteering through the French Department. She spends her free time writing fiction and doing interior design projects. Katie loves reading both fiction and non-fiction and hopes to pursue a career in publishing in the near future, ideally with a small, independent press. For the coming school year, however, Katie will be teaching English in Montpellier, France. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to immerse herself in the French language.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 at 9:51 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Katelyn Hewett, Technology, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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