The city council of Paris, France is reportedly considering a partial motorcycle and scooter ban inside the city limits in February 2024. What's the problem? According to proponents, it's the noise.
Combustion-powered motorcycles and scooters are the target for that very reason. According to the current proposal championed by Parisian elected official Pierre-Yves Bournazel, electric motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds of all shapes and sizes would not be affected by the proposed ban.
Under the terms as proposed, motorcycles and scooters with combustion engines would be banned from operating in Paris between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. every night. To be clear, as of February 8, 2024, the proposed ban has not been made law or enacted in any way. It's still under discussion at the time of writing.
If the plan currently under consideration is enacted, the ban would actually be an experimental period, lasting for a total of one year to observe the effects. In support of his measure, Bournazel cited a statistic of approximately 80 percent of Parisians complaining about noise on a daily basis, but it's unclear if that's an exaggeration.
In addition to the proposed Parisian overnight motorcycle ban, Bournazel also wants to equip more sound radars throughout the city to aid enforcement efforts.
Since many people ride motorcycles and scooters as a means of transportation (and not just for fun), Bournazel also proposes doubling current financial assistance programs to encourage combustion bike riders to try other, quieter forms of transport. Bicycles of all types, electric scooters, and electric motorcycles are all acceptable options to proponents of this plan.
Speaking as both a rider and a former professional bread baker, here's a thing that you may or may not know about that particular profession. Much of the fresh bread that people love to eat requires yeast to rise. Although there are ways to improve its environment so that it rises more quickly, raising any yeast bread takes time. Therefore, bread bakers have to start work extremely early in order to get all that delicious bread ready for people to buy in the morning.
France, as I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, is a place that is absolutely mad for good bread. In order to have good bread ready for the hungry public, you need to start mixing, kneading, and proofing your dough a whole lot earlier than 7 a.m.
Just as one example, the famous Parisian bakery chain Maison Landemaine has a whole lot of locations that open for business at 7 a.m. They proudly advertise some bread types that require long fermentation, which (you guessed it) means that bakers are in the kitchen extremely early to do their very delicious jobs.
Of course, they're not the only ones. A proposal like this targets not only the bread bakers who ride, but anyone who works overnights for any reason.
We don't want to make broad generalizations here, but some professions (including bread baking) that operate primarily during the overnight hours don't always pay very well. At least, not well enough to suddenly drop everything and go buy a whole new means of transport because your trusty motorbike just got banned during the hours when you need to use it the most.
The French Federation of Angry Bikers (or Fédération Française des Motards en Colère in actual French) is a group that regularly takes action when it feels that biker rights in France are under threat. In 2022, it organized a campaign against motorcycle technical control inspections. Back in 2021, France took action to ban lane splitting, so the biker association hit the streets to protest.
Like all other large groups, members of the FFMC are many and varied, and have a whole bunch of opinions. They're not a monolith. We can tell you that one division, the French Federation of Angry Bikers of Loire Atlantique, made one very interesting connection that it wants Parisians to consider.
According to them, one of leaders of Ras le Scoot, a group that campaigns against motorbikes in general, works for an e-bike and cargo bike company as his day job (as is clearly shown on the man's LinkedIn profile). The implication is that of course he's going to want more people to feel compelled to buy e-bikes or cargo bikes, even if that's not directly what he's saying.
At the time of writing, RideApart is not based in Paris. However, most of us have lived in cities. One thing they have in common is that they're loud. Full stop. I remember specifically living in one apartment as a child where my bedroom window was right next to a CTA bus stop. There was also a popular bar across the street, so you'd have plenty of noise late into the night that didn't come from any type of vehicle.
So, the question seems to be this, as it is in so many cases: When you move to a new place, do you expect it to change your life in a meaningful way? Or do you expect the place to magically adapt to suit your needs?
It's one thing if it's inside the walls of your home, where you can change what you like within reason. But it's completely another if you move to a new place and you just expect everyone else in the neighborhood to tiptoe around you because you've deigned to grace the area with your presence. On behalf of people who work (and ride to their jobs) overnight, make it make sense.