Inside the battle to bring electric scooter-sharing start-ups to Europe

Stepping out of the Gare du Nord rail station, one of the first things I see is a young man riding a large, black electric scooter along a cycle path, zipping by as cars remain stuck in traffic beside him. This may be a new sight in Paris, but it’s not an unusual one. Two US technology giants have set their sights on the city as a testing ground for their belief that the future of transport lies in the form of dockless electric scooters which can be located using a smartphone app

Technology investors have backed these businesses with hundreds of millions of dollars, betting on electric scooters as the future of transport. Cities are clogged with cars and pollution, the thinking goes, and we still don’t have a good solution for “last mile” transport – the journey between home and the nearest public transport stop.

But many cities are still recovering from the launch of dockless bicycles, many of which deployed thousands of bicycles in cities overnight without the proper licenses to operate. That experience has left cities concerned about the deployment of other dockless transport services such as electric scooters.

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