That same study, however, found that more than three-quarters of the users would have otherwise walked, taken public transportation or biked if scooters were not an option.
“Sure, scooters don’t emit any pollution like a car,” countered Mr. Belliard, a member of France’s Green party. “But a big majority would have used modes of transportation that are already decarbonized.”
Nationwide, more than 750,000 electric scooters were sold in 2022, after a record 900,000 in 2021, according to the Federation of Micro-Mobility Professionals, which includes scooter distributors and retailers. And the mayor of Lyon, France’s third largest city, has just agreed to a four-year extension of its contract with Tier and Dott.
But Paris’s City Hall, once excited to bring the new transportation choice to the French capital, is now keen to see it gone. Instead of banning the scooters outright, Ms. Hidalgo and her deputies decided to let the public vote in the referendum. A recent poll showed that 70 percent would vote against keeping them.
If Tier, Lime and Dott lose Sunday’s vote, their contracts with the city will not be renewed, and the scooters’ zigzagging presence in Paris will be gone by the end of August.
The operators have mounted a campaign in favor of keeping the scooters. They have criticized the fact that online voting — rare in France — was not allowed, arguing that its absence deters younger voters from participating. They have also complained that the geographic boundaries of who can vote were too restrictive, excluding people in the suburbs.
In the week before the vote, the social network TikTok was buzzing with messages using the hashtag “sauvetatrott” (“save your scooter”), and Parisian social influencers have expounded on the importance of saving the “most romantic thing to do in Paris” or the only transportation service that’s “not affected by national strikes.”
But many Parisians would find their ban a relief.
“I don’t call them scooters, I call them garbage,” said Olivier Guntzberger, 45, an electronics salesman. Outside his storefront on a narrow street near the Champs-Élysées, 20 scooters were piled in a parking space. “I’m not going to cry over them,” he said.
Catherine Porter contributed reporting.