PARIS: Residents of several major European cities have made use of bike-sharing schemes ever since Paris pioneered the hugely popular Vélib system in 2007 and now the French capital is about to become a test bed for e-scooters.
Starting today, Friday 22 June, US start-up Lime will launch a fleet of its dock-free electric scooters that have already taken America by storm, as it embarks on an aggressive international expansion plan.
According to the Financial Times, Paris will be an early test of whether European consumers and regulators will warm to a new form of transportation that is attracting a huge amount of investment in the US as well as plenty of controversy.
E-scooters have surged in popularity in many US cities – ranging from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Denver and Nashville – but critics have complained about how some users operate them.
As these scooters can reach speeds of up to 15mph, some users rush along crowded pavements before dumping them once they are finished, and pressure is mounting in a number of US cities for them to be licensed.
Founded only last year as a bike hire company, Lime already operates in more than 70 cities and college campuses and it plans to expand into more than 25 markets across Europe before the end of this year. It also has a target of 125 markets around the world over the same time frame.
After a successful pilot in Zurich, Paris will kick off its European ambitions, although its hopes of entering the UK market will have to be limited to electric bikes for the moment because e-scooters are banned on British roads.
Like Bird, its arch rival based in Los Angeles, Lime e-scooters can be hired via a smartphone app – which will cost Parisians a minimum of one euro per ride.
Industry observers are expected to keep a close eye on whether the new transportation trend achieves the same rapid growth as it has in the US this year.
Sourced from Financial Times, CNET; additional content by WARC staff