Greening Pains

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The European Union plans on banning new non-electric cars starting in 2035. This big shift in the international auto market is part of an effort to reduce new vehicular carbon emissions to reduce the impacts of climate change.

As Yale Environment 360 explained, droughts that bring commerce to a halt on Europe’s great rivers are becoming the new normal. Temperatures on the continent have increased twice as much as for the rest of the world, according to the United Nations. Europeans have spent more than $152 billion in responding to or mitigating those and other climate-related issues in the last decade, added the World Economic Forum.

Others are going still further. In France, leaders are closing off the center of Paris to cars, Time Out reported, taking around 100,000 cars off the road as a result, and instead constructing lanes for bicycles and other alternative means of transport at a record pace.

That process has had some unexpected backlash, namely against electric scooters, or e-scooters, which French officials are now considering banning out of safety concerns, as Reuters reported.

This year, e-scooters were involved in the deaths of 24 people in France. E-scooter drivers, pedestrians and others were in almost 340 accidents compared with fewer than 250 in 2021. Officials are now considering not renewing licenses for Lime, Dott, and Tier, three companies that rent around 15,000 e-scooters to Parisian and visitors, when their licenses expire early next year.

Besides safety concerns, Paris officials just find them annoying, and crucially in France, unsightly.

E-scooter riders don’t respect traffic rules, ride illegally on sidewalks, clog up streets when they park and litter parks, sidewalks and the boardwalk on the River Seine when they are abandoned, noted Expatica, a news website for foreigners living in France and other nations.

Paris officials have already banned e-scooters entirely from the Champs-Élysées, the grand boulevard in central Paris that ends at the Arc de Triomphe, according to the Connexion, an English-language news outlet that covers France.

Meanwhile, Paris has already limited the number of e-scooters allowed in the city by the three operators running fleets of the scooters there, the Washington Post noted. Other proposals on the table beside an outright ban include equipping e-scooters with license plates to be able to ticket riders for infractions.

The issue underlying the fight over e-scooters is how to move forward with car-free cities in a manner that takes into account the needs of residents, with respect to mobility and otherwise.

The e-scooters are just one part of the new “micromobility” movement that is taking hold in Europe and elsewhere as green-conscious individuals consider how they might cut down on car use and reduce their carbon footprint, reported the Financial Times. The technology and management necessary to track e-scooters, and make sure they are charged, maintained and parked legally, comprise logistical challenges that have been made more difficult as the popularity of the vehicles has exploded.

France is not alone in facing these issues or making these kinds of rules, Euronews noted. Italy has enacted restrictions on riders. Finland, Norway, and Sweden have banned riding e-scooters at night and taken other measures.

As Europe moves toward e-mobility, expect more bumps along the way.

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