Lime scooters are live in Paris

Lime is the hot new thing in San Francisco, but will it work in other countries? The company just launched its electric scooter service in Paris.

This isn’t the first European city as Lime is also operating in Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt and Zurich. But it’s a significant launch as alternative mobility solutions have all been trying to grab some market share in Paris.

Yesterday, you could see 200 scooters in the South East of Paris ready to be deployed. Lime plans to expand its fleet over time. Every day, the company will collect all the scooters at 9 PM to recharge them and put them back on the streets at 5 AM.

Between October and January, four bike-sharing services launched in Paris — GoBee Bike, Obike, Ofo and Mobike. GoBee Bike has left the market since then because it was underfunded and suffering from too much competition.

But Mobike and Ofo seem to be doing really well, especially if you compare it to the docked bikes — Vélib is more or less broken right now. Vélib started in 2007, years before cities like New York and London adopted a bike-sharing system. That’s why Parisians have had enough time to get familiar with the idea of sharing a bike with other members.

And then, there is Cityscoot and Coup, two electric scooter services (motorcycles, not standing scooters). They’re more expensive but quite popular, especially for longer distances.

It leaves Lime in an awkward position. I tried a Lime earlier today and wasn’t convinced it was the right solution for Paris. First, it’s quite expensive. You pay €1 to unlock it and then €0.15 per minute. A 20-minute ride costs €4 for instance. This is more expensive than 20 minutes on a Cityscoot, and less expensive than 20 minutes using Coup.

But it’s way more expensive than 20 minutes on an Ofo bike, which costs €0.50. I’m not convinced people are willing to pay eight times as much for everyday rides. Public transport options are also much more efficient in Paris than in San Francisco.

Paris is also much more difficult to navigate on a Lime scooter than San Francisco. There are speed bumps made out of paving stones and narrow streets. In addition to that, you can’t brake abruptly because you’re just standing on a scooter. I had to brake constantly in order to overcome those obstacles.

And yet, cities will need many different options to replace cars. There won’t be just one thing. People will use a multitude of transportation methods, from bikes to Lime scooters to electric motorcycle scooters. Now let’s see if Lime scooters won’t end up in the Seine.