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17.12.2019 Europe

Paris transport strike drives spike in bike, scooter accidents

By RFI
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
LISTEN DEC 17, 2019

The city of Paris has reported a 40 percent increase in accidents involving bicycles and scooters, as thousands of Parisians turn to two-wheel transport to avoid the commuting chaos of the rolling pensions strike. 

The Paris Fire Brigade said it had intervened 600 times in under 10 days for accidents involving bikes or scooters since the strikes began on 5 December. 

"It's a big jump," Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus, the brigade's spokesman, told AFP. 

"Obviously it's because of the strikes, there is a lot more traffic and inexperienced or poorly equipped people are using bikes or other alternatives," he said.

Novice two-wheelers are colliding with pedestrians but also being struck by cars, Plus said, though most are suffering only minor injuries that do not require hospital visits.

But the public transport shutdown has also brought thousands more drivers onto the roads, meaning firefighters are taking longer to respond to accidents.

"Fortunately we haven't had to make any major interventions, like for a big fire," Plus said.

Tuesday marks the 13th day of the strike, which has kept half or more of the city's metro lines completely shut and severely crimped service on suburban rail lines.

Since last year, Paris has been flooded with at least 15,000 electric scooters available for rent, drawing the ire of residents and city officials complaining they are cluttering up already crowded sidewalks and squares.

During the first day of the strike on 5 December, the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion claimed the sabotage of 3,600 electric scooters in Paris and other French cities, saying the green image of the gadgets hid an "ecologically catastrophic" reality.

(with AFP)

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