Just last week, I was pointing at a few bubbles of risks that were about to burst. One of them was how citizens in Paris would react to the mayor asking them if they want to keep or reject micromobility solutions (as in fleet of e-scooters).
Well, the verdict is out:
In a referendum Sunday organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Paris residents voted 89% against keeping shared e-scooters in the city. The three companies that pay for contracts to operate in the City of Light will have to pull their fleets — a total of 15,000 e-scooters — out of the city by September 1. (TechCrunch)
Obviously, the three current micromobility operators in Paris are already crying after an unfair vote, crying about the low voter turnout. If you know anything about France and, oh, I don't know, the current political warfare there is about retirement age!? Having 7.5% of locally registered voters attend this was quite a feat.
Also? Renting e-bikes is doing tremendous in Paris.
The story of e-scooters in large cities is always the same. It's about balancing problems created vs. problems solved. And the case of e-scooters is anything but a net negative. If only because all studies point to e-scooters mostly replacing... walking or public transit. Car usage? Not so much.
And from the beginning, e-scooters platforms were banking on the absence of proper bike lanes and the possibility of flooding cities with e-scooters without much oversight. They were also betting on eventually getting subsidized by public money too, when U.S. investors would get tired of filling in the losses. Since 2018, I have been making this very point to "micromobility" evangelists that were pushing an economically unsustainable business model to cities, telling them that the breakthrough business model would eventually be owning a f** bike.
And by the way, it's not like we didn't have the model in front of our eyes all this time...
The irony is that Parisians (like most other inhabitants of a European metropolis) were up in arms against bikes as it was messing with their sacrosanct car privileges. Then the "Covid lanes" rose, and the mood rapidly changed. And while e-scooters were initially celebrated for their fun and efficiency, inhabitants started to resent their nuisances as they spread in the city.
Unlike consumers on the West coast, Parisians are deeply risk and change-adverse. The way you have to read them embracing or rejecting any innovation early on is quite challenging as it's a poor indicator of what they will end up thinking when said innovation scales...
What a surprise (not).
We've had the memo for decades. It's called crossing the chasm. And yet, a vast majority of investors don't get it (or don't want to get it):
And in case you missed it, the full explanation is here:
In any case, e-scooters are on their way out, and micromobility? Micromobility is doing really well, thank you.