by Daphné Leprince-Ringuet
A controversial French electric hire scooter scheme may soon be coming to London’s roads.
The practice, known as free-floating, is taking off in European cities. One company has a custom-made app to locate the nearest scooter.
The Cityscoot app allows users to hire free-floating electric scooters in Paris. The company has announced it is planning to expand to several European cities and operate a fleet of 10,000 scooters by the end of 2019.
The start-up raised 40 million euros in February to finance the project’s international development. Cityscoot has only announced Nice, Geneva and Milan as the next target cities, but the company’s CEO Bertrand Fleurose said: “Expanding Cityscoot to London is in our short-term plans.”
Researcher Roberto Nocerino from the Milan Politecnico University conducted a study on the environmental effects of electric vehicles. He confirmed that Cityscoot’s low emission scooters are a helpful way of tackling air pollution.
“We need to think of innovative ways to reduce the impact of transportation in European cities. It is one of the main reasons why air pollution limits are regularly broken,” he said.
“The only effective way of closing the vicious circle of energy production is to have vehicles powered by renewable energies and constructed as locally as possible.”
Fleurose confirmed that Cityscoot is exemplary from an ecological perspective: “We use green electricity from wind or sun and our battery manufacturer is German. We have a 100 per cent European-made scooter.”
The app, however, has not won unanimous praise. Critics argue that Cityscoot is not enforcing sufficient regulations to ensure respectful user behaviour, particularly regarding responsible parking.
One observer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I regularly find scooters illegally parked in the middle of the pavement.
“Cityscoot is clearly at fault here. It is not complicated to create an app that clearly defines where is appropriate to park.”
Cityscoot said it is taking measures to tackle the issue. Eighty teams currently travel across Paris every day and make sure that users who have not parked properly pay a fine.
“All in all, our users are responsible. But it is part of human nature to criticise even the ones who do well,” said Fleurose.
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