I’ve always been a bicycle person, but one day I forgot my Velib card after a shoot by Bir Hakeimr and the M6 was closed for renovation…so I decided to try a scooter to get to the closest open metro stop. But I was kind of lost because I couldn’t find a proper to-the-point informative article about them. I ended up using the closest one to me and had a bad experience on it…which led me to try out and write my notes on each of them to share with you.
There are many services, but this article will cover Lime, Dott, Bird and Jump which seem the most widespread and popular…and the only ones I have ridden properly. There are obviously more and I waned to try Circ…but for some reason the app wouldn’t take my business card although I have I’m sure my bank was being douchy. I may go back to Circ and other brands for another article.
Ok, let’s get the review started.
Apps and Payment
You will need to get the apps. It’s pretty easy and straightforward, their accounts are free but they require SMS code authentication for your phone number. This means that may have to plan a little ahead if you are coming to Paris and your phone’s plan is limited to data only.
You must be 18 years old to access any scooter service in Paris, but none of the apps ask for any other requirements to prove you are 18+ or have a valid drivers license as some brands require for other countries. Just create your account, add a credit card, done.
Most services require Prepayment where you add a minimum of 10E and offer an auto top-up. Bird and Lime work this way. Dott has the option for prepayment, but I have it set up like Uber/Jump - you pay per ride. Which leads me to Jump from Uber. For the France interface of Uber (the app’s interface changes depending of the country you are in) you have to tap the Bike/Scooter logo to access Jump. Once there, you see both Bikes and Scooters. For some reason, it seems to me that there are far more bikes than scooters, but when I needed one it was just a matter of a 5 minute walk to grab one by Odeon.
Unlocking is is simple as well - you just need to scan the QR code. Some annoying souls might try to block the QR frame, but the actual code itself is written in the frame as well. You can unlock the scooter via the phone’s camera or manually entering the code.
Some apps also offer some sort of noise or alarm in case you can’t find the scooter you are looking for. Once you are done riding, you park it somewhere appropriate, and tap on the App to Finish/End ride.
They usually require you to take a photo of your parked scooter to comply with new city rules. The government had to step in after scooters and bikes were being parked everywhere and they became a huge nuisance. So, take a couple of minutes to read the rules on the app about where is it ok to park and avoid fines :) If you find a bicycle or motorcycle parking, you are set. Also, all locals will appreciate it, as well as your wallet.
The maps on the apps now have restricted areas that will not let you lock and end the ride if you are in them. This helps, but it sometimes won’t let you park close to a restricted area despite being outside of it. A little annoying, but nothing major. It happened to me with Bird and Lime near Trocadero and Luxemburg Garden respectively.
My favorite service so far is Dott followed closely by Jump. The fleets are well kept, they are smooth on acceleration and the breaks are tight, but not over reactive. Lime is not bad, they actually have what I feel is the lightest scooter, but all the Limes and Birds I saw last time were pretty scrapped and worn down. Jump feels the most snappy to accelerate and a little too hard on brakes. It also felt like the heaviest scooter for some reason.
Bird… I hate profusely. Why? Their kickstand is on the left side towards the back of the board… and if you are a goofy rider (the left foot does the pushing) you may cut yourself pretty bad on the ankle. I earned myself a couple of scars thanks to Bird. Dott also has their kickstand on the left backside but it wasn’t an issue the times I rode it.
Remember: these scooters are meant to be ridden on bike paths and street only, not on sidewalks. You risk being fined. So far, I have had no issues riding the scooters on the Bus Lanes (which double as bike paths in Paris as long as they have a bicycle painted along Bus on the pavement or it is posted on a sign). Cars, taxis, and buses are very respectful and aware of you. Obviously, be careful.
Most of these services charge the same way - 1 euro to unlock the scooter and ride, then the prices per minute vary from 15 cents to 25 cents per minute. Here is the breakdown between Dott, Lime, Bird and Jump from low to high:
Dott 1E to unlock then 0.15E per minute
Jump 1E to unlock then 0.15E per minute
Lime 1E to unlock then 0.20E per minute
Bird 1E to unlock then 0.25E per minute
I was surprised to find out that my personal two brands are the most affordable per minute and the one I had issues with is the most expensive. Just do not forget about Lime - it feels by far the more readily available fleet in Paris and the machines are just fine to ride.
In the end, it comes down to your preference and convenience. They all cost pretty much similarly, the scooters work all the same. They will get you safely from point A to B, and they’re fun to ride. As for me, I will continue using Dott as much as possible until I run out of credit or the M6 starts working again. Then, I’ll go back to Velibs…since they are 1E and 2E for electric assist bikes per 30 minutes and I happen to have around 600 free minutes accumulated :)