Speed limits and no sharing: These are the new laws on electric scooters in France

Speed limits and no sharing: These are the new laws on electric scooters in France
Photo: AFP
From today electric scooters have officially been added to the French highway code - which means they now subject to a raft of new rules from age restrictions to speed limits and a ban on carrying passengers.

Although the use of electric scooters has exploded in France in the past few years – especially in the cities – until now they have occupied a legal grey area as they were not officially covered by the Code de la route (highway code) which meant that rules for their use were a matter for interpretation.

Today, following months of discussion between ministries, an amendment was published in the Journal officiel adding engins de déplacement personnel motorisés (motorized personal transport equipment – or scooters) to the statue book.



The laws that scooter riders will now have to follow are broadly similar to those for cyclists and include; 

  • A 25km/h speed limit. In fact many of the dockless rental scooters in cities like Paris are already restricted as to how fast they can go, but this bill adopts a nationwide limit for all scooters – rented or privately owned. People who own their own scooter need to make sure that their machine is restricted to a top speed of 25 km/h. The penalty for speeding or an unrestricted machine is a maximum fine of €1,500.
  • An age restriction. Only people aged over 12 years old or over can ride a scooter on the highway
  • No passengers. It's a common sight to see two or even more people sharing the same scooter, but the law now states that their use is to be 'exclusively personal'. This will also put an end to the practice of parents having one or more child riding on their electric scooter. 

  • No earphones. As with cyclists, it is forbidden for scooter riders to be listening to music or podcasts as they travel. The three above offences are all punishable with a €35 fine.
  • Major roads ban. Scooters can only travel on roads with a speed limit of 50km/h or lower. So the days of seeing scooters on the Paris périphérique should be over.
  • Pavement ban. Several cities including Paris have already brought in local laws on this, but the new law forbids scooters from being ridden on the pavement. It does, however, contain a clause that says local mayors can overturn this ban in their area if the pavements are sufficiently wide. Outside urban areas scooters are restricted to cycle paths. This is punishable by a €135 fine.
  • Parking rules. The law does not ban parking scooters on the pavement, providing pedestrians are not disturbed. However users in Paris should be aware that local bylaws already prohibit this.
  • No helmet requirement. The law does not make helmets or reflective clothing at night mandatory in urban areas, only outside the cities. All scooters must however be equipped with front and rear lights, reflectors and a horn.

VIDEO: Frenchman filmed riding at 85 km/h on Paris motorway on an electric scooter

In Marseille divers have had to retrieve the dozens of scooters dumped every month in the city's harbour. Photo: AFP

Although very popular with commuters and tourists alike and heralded as a green transport method, the unrestricted growth of scooter use – particularly through dockless ride sharing services – has caused headaches in cities like Paris and Marseille.

Thousands of the scooters are vandalised or abandoned every day and pedestrians have complained of scooters riding at excessive speed on the pavements.

In response several local mayors have brought in their own restrictions.

In Paris it was already forbidden to ride on the pavement and parking is now restricted to specialist parking bays.

In Marseille authorities last month announced a limit to the number of scooter hire companies that would be permitted to operate in the city after a string of problems including people dumping scooters in the city's port.

There have also been a number of tragedies, with several scooter riders killed on the roads in recent months, including a couple in Bordeaux who were sharing a scooter when they were hit by a car. The 25-year-old man died and the woman was badly injured.

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