Uber Is Launching Mopeds in Paris
Even if you’ve done Paris so many times you could ask for “the usual” at Les Deux Magots, there’s a new reason, and way, to visit.
Technically, it’s not entirely new. In 1999, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (and anyone who watched “Passport to Paris”) saw the City of Lights from the back of mopeds driven by Parisians. Next month, however, you’ll be able to see it from your own moped — driven by you. All you need is the Uber app and a photo of your valid driver’s license.
“Mopeds are a very exciting addition to Uber’s line-up, which already includes rides, bikes, scooters, and most recently, transit,” Arvind Srinivasan, head of product - mobility platforms at Uber told Travel + Leisure. Paris is the first and only city offering Uber moped service, slated to start in November.
Why Paris? Mopeds are almost as synonymous with the city as baguettes and berets. Plus, France’s capital is a pioneer when it comes to replacing cars with more eco-friendly alternatives. In 2006, it debuted Velib, the world’s first large-scale public bicycle share system.
But with cabs, a metro, rideshare services, and bike and electric scooter rentals (also offered by Uber) to choose from, why mopeds? According to Srinivasan, they’re guaranteed to be the fastest way to get around Paris.
Uber isn’t haphazardly entering this market. They did their homework. “We’re partnering with Cityscoot, a French startup, who has deep operational expertise and has been around Paris for years,” explained Billy Guernier, head of new mobility platforms at Uber. Srinivasan goes so far as to say city government considers Cityscoot the “crown jewel” of Paris transportation.
Cityscoot’s entire fleet of 4,000 electric mopeds will be available to Uber riders. Relatively new, blue and white, they’re sleek enough for an elite police squad. But these $7,000 mopeds are modified to reach a maximum speed of 28 mph. Safety is so important to Uber they’re even offering free driving classes — though they're optional. Riders can sign up through their Uber app, or they can just read the safety instructions and view video demonstrations on their phone.
Reserving a moped is as simple as taking a photo of your valid driver’s license. In a matter of seconds, Uber approves it and provides a pin code and directions to the nearest parked moped. Since the mopeds can be parked in any parking spot reserved for a two-wheeled motor vehicle, most are expected to be within a two-minute walk.
The pin code unlocks the seat compartment — where the helmet, disposable hairnets, and reflective safety vests are stored. It’s also needed to start the engine. (Cityscoot employees will check the bikes twice a week for maintenance and to recharge them.) Below the handlebars there’s a transparent water-resistant pocket for a smartphone and enough space to store one piece of carry-on luggage. Besides the fact you have to ride on the road and can’t take advantage of Paris’ extensive bike-lane system, the only serious downside is if you have two riders. You’ll have to bring a second helmet since they’re required in France.
But at just $.32/minute, it’s still cheaper to rent two bikes than it is to drive. For example, one moped rental from the Louvre to the Moulin Rouge will cost about $4. The same route on UberX can take twice as long and will cost at least $13. Plus, Uber says the mopeds won’t have surge pricing, and there’s no need to tip anyone. Since you did the driving, just treat yourself. There are plenty of places to do that in Paris.