The polling stations, mostly grouped in the borough halls on the occasion of this unprecedented "citizen vote" in Paris, opened at 09:00 and must close at 19:00.

The results are expected around 22:00. If the vote has no legal value, the socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, who campaigned against self-service scooters, promised that the result will "engage" her.

The three operators have tried everything to avoid their eviction, which would send a negative signal to medium-sized cities hesitant to authorize this service.

Including with controversial methods, such as offering a free ride on voting day, or using social media influencers to engage their young clientele.

"Legally," Nicolas Gorse, CEO of Dott, defended on RMC, speaking on behalf of the three operators.

He warned of the economic consequences of a ban, with scooters in Paris accounting for 15% of the turnover of Dott, which employs 800 people in Paris.

Other major cities such as Barcelona or Montreal are still blocking their installation.

Electric scooters are accused by their detractors of being abandoned anywhere in the public space, of brushing pedestrians on the sidewalks at full speed, or of not being so environmentally friendly because of a supposed poor carbon footprint.

"It's dangerous"

Among the voters interviewed by AFP on Sunday morning, the majority voted against.

"It's dangerous, both for those who use them and for pedestrians," said Françoise Granier, who voted against self-service scooters at the town hall of the ninth arrondissement.

"We never verbalize!" said the 68-year-old doctor, deploring pell-mell the incivilities of scooterists, cyclists or bikers.

"If it was better supervised, I would not be against ... but we see that the behaviors are crazy, "also opined Michaël Dahan, 50, functional analyst in IT, who voted against the mayor of the eleventh arrondissement, stronghold of the Parisian left.

"There is not a day when I leave my house without risking being crushed!" said Slavica Nicolosa, 73, indignant to see scooter riders riding on the sidewalks, or two on their machine.

"Certainly, there are still traffic violations and dangerous behavior. That's about the human, not the machines," defended Nicolas Gorse on behalf of the operators. "What is needed is to educate, detect, punish."

Anne Hidalgo and her deputy ecologist for mobility David Belliard have both called for a vote against, but the mayor's partners have shown little enthusiasm to campaign.

The right-wing opposition did not call for participation in the vote, deploring that the town hall only consults citizens on a "minor" subject.

"We're tired of people saying it's a means of transport for young people!" said Servane Gaxotte, 57, one of the few voters interviewed by AFP to vote for it.

This stylist from the eleventh arrondissement appreciates this means of transport "much more mobile" than the bike, she who does not have the place at home to have her own scooter.

© 2023 AFP