The three companies will each be allowed to operate 5,000 electric scooters in the city
The three companies will each be allowed to operate 5,000 electric scooters in the city © AFP/Getty Images

Paris has granted licences to three electric scooter companies, ending a messy free-for-all in Europe’s biggest market for the mobility devices.

The US company Lime, Germany’s Tier Mobility and France’s Dott were chosen for two-year licences out of the 16 companies that applied. Each will be allowed to operate 5,000 electric scooters in the city.

Among those that missed out were Bird Rides, the well-funded start-up that pioneered electric scooter sharing in California, Stockholm-based Voi and the Estonian start-up Bolt.

City official David Belliard said the losers would have to remove their scooters by mid-September. He also said the city would create 2,500 parking areas for scooters to “end the problems we have seen in sharing of public space”.

Paris said it judged the applicants on their environmental responsibility, the safety of users and their ability to manage and maintain their scooter fleet.

Electric scooters have spread rapidly across Europe’s capitals in recent years, fuelled by billions of euros of venture capital funding. Their fans say they are a green alternative to cars, but critics say users often park them chaotically on sidewalks and figure in accidents with pedestrians.

Before the coronavirus crisis, Paris had become the largest market in Europe, with more than 20,000 trotinettes, as they are known in French, available across the city.

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, cracked down by restricting scooter parking, banning them from sidewalks and setting a speed limit. In June 2019, the city announced the plan to issue licences to operate, promising to “finish once and for all with the anarchy”.

But e-scooters also fit well with Ms Hidalgo’s green agenda for Paris that has seen her impose stricter limitations on cars. With Covid-19, Paris expanded cycle lanes as it lifted lockdowns, which has also facilitated the use of scooters.

Lawrence Leuschner, the co-founder of Tier Mobility, said: “We are so proud to partner with the city of Paris to bring our unique climate-neutral travel solution to the biggest e-scooter market in the world.” The company added that the concession would be worth “tens of millions of pounds”.

Henri Moissinac, the co-founder of Dott, said: “The tender process has finished, but this is just the beginning. We are very proud of this accolade and grateful to the City of Paris for its trust.”

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