After Vélib’ bikes and Autolib’ cars, Paris adds mopeds to hire fleet

Organisers say low-cost vehicle emits no noise or fumes, although its maximum speed is unlikely to impress Top Gear

First Paris introduced the Vélib’ bicycle; then the Autolib’ electric car. Now, in a further move to reduce noise and pollution, a moped-sharing scheme has rolled into the French capital.

Called Cityscoot, a fleet of 150 electric scooters similar to the old-fashioned 50cc mobylette, made their appearance on Paris’s streets on Tuesday.

The project’s organisers say they are cheap, emit no noise or fumes, and are safe and hygienic, with a helmet and plastic hair cap stowed under the seat.

Their maximum speed of 28mph (45kmh) is unlikely to impress Top Gear, but Philippe Doucet of Le Figaro described the scooters – made in Poland by a German manufacturer – as “nippy enough to slip into traffic with no problem”.

“It makes no noise, not when it starts or when it’s going, so be careful not to surprise pedestrians. Even with a rider weighing more than 100kg the Cityscoot accelerates well and achieves its maximum speed in a few seconds,” Doucet wrote.

A man rides a Vélib’ bicycle near the Eiffel Tower.
A man rides a Vélib’ bicycle near the Eiffel Tower. Photograph: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

Riders do not have to worry about where they leave their Cityscoot as the mopeds can be dropped almost anywhere, as long as they are not blocking the road or pavement or causing a nuisance, and do not need to be charged by users.

Frenchman Bertrand Fleurose, a former City trader in London who founded Cityscoot, said it would work on a “free-floating” model; there were no rental parks, keys or magnetic cards, and geo-location meant the nearest moped could be found using the related smartphone app.

Once a scooter was found and booked via the app, the rider had 10 minutes to pick it up using a start code.

Riders must be over 18 and register using the app, which requires a photograph. Face recognition software will check their identity. Insurance is included and only drivers born after 1 January 1988 need a licence.

It costs from 20 cents a minute if prepaid, up to a maximum of 28c a minute. A journey across Paris from the Champs Elysées to Bastille will cost about €2.40, a little more than a metro ticket.

Fleurose said he has been working on the scooter scheme, which is supported by Paris City Hall, for 10 years. About 1,500 testers participated in a six-month pilot scheme and made 20,000 journeys, the average length of which was 2.3 miles. Cityscoot aims to have 1,000 mopeds in the French capital by the end of March next year.

Scooter schemes already exist in Spain (Cooltra) and Germany (eMio).


Kim Willsher in Paris

The GuardianTramp

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