Many cities around the world have bicycles available for visitors and locals for short term use. In some cases, these city bikes are free to loan, but many cities charge a fee for the loan period. Startup companies in Paris and Nice have developed the concept further, and introduced electric scooters that can be booked and paid for with a mobile app.
At the moment, Cityscoot has 1500 electric scooters in Paris available for short term rental. In the early 2018, 400 electric scooters are waiting for bookings in the city of Nice (here is a travel guide to Nice and the French Riviera).
There is already competition in Paris: Coup has a fleet of escooters in Paris and in Berlin, Germany. From a traveler’s point of view, the primary difference between these two competitors is their pricing model. They also have deployed different scooter models, so riding experience is a bit different.
Here is how the electric scooter rentals work:
– Download the app (Cityscoot or Coup) onto your smartphone.
– Top up some money on your account.
– When you need a ride, find the closest scooter (from a map in the app) that is available and book it.
– Once you have found the parked scooter, you can unlock it by entering the security code you received during the booking process.
– There is a helmet under the seat that you must wear.
– When it is time to park and leave the vehicle, you must be within the area specified by the service (city center).
– Park the scooter wherever it is legal to park, and lock it.
The company charges the batteries of the scooters by bringing a full battery to the bike and taking the empty one to a charging station.
Anyone who has ever ridden a moped, scooter, vespa, motorcycle should have no problems in riding an electric scooter. The biggest difference is that there are no gears, and therefore no clutch. This is what makes the escooter also attractive for people who have never ridden a motorcycle or vespa. Learning the gears and the clutch can be quite tricky if you have never used them before.
Coup charges 4 euros for half an hour ride, and 25 euros for daylight hours 7 am – 7pm. Cityscoot pricing is per minute: 0.20-0.28 euros depending on the package you take.
Numerama tested Cityscoop’s scooters in Paris, and they were pretty happy with the service and the ride. They liked: the powerful engines of scooters, comfortable handling, and availability. They didn’t like: errors in the app, available only in Paris.
I can’t wait to try an electric scooter. Perhaps Nice in the spring would be a destination where it is wonderful to cruise along the Promenade d’Anglais and explore the narrow streets of the old town before riding up to the Castle Hill. A possible problem is navigation. How do you navigate when you riding a scooter in a city you don’t know? You can’t see the screen of your smartphone. Perhaps plug in a tiny earphone that fits inside the helmet and listen to the navigator’s audio instructions?
Here is a video by the City of Nice where the city leaders are introduced to the electric scooter, and get a test ride: