Evening Update Thursday 14th March 2024

Electric bike hire firm Pony says it will gradually put some of its bikes back into service in Nice, after all 800 of them were recalled as a safety precaution. Nice city council has been putting pressure on the hire firm to at least reinstate the 200 manual push-bikes that are not affected by the safety recall, which relates to a possible battery defect in the electric model. Pony's bikes have been unavailable since this weekend. The manual bikes will be back in service next week. As for the electric bikes, 40 of them will have been checked and put back in use next week. The other 560 will gradually return to the streets over the coming weeks once safety checks have been completed.

Environmental activists have held protests in Nice and Grasse to call for a cap on air traffic at Nice and Cannes-Mandelieu airports. The joint demonstrations condemned the growing impact of aviation on the environment, in terms of climate change but also air and noise pollution, which can lead to health problems and sleep disorders. Similar demonstrations were held at the same time in 20 other French towns and cities. The campaigners in Nice were also protesting about the extension of terminal 2 at Nice airport, which they say will lead to a 50% increase in passenger numbers by 2030. New figures out this week show French airports have returned to pre-pandemic levels of traffic. Nice Côte d'Azur is the third busiest airport in France behind Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly. It registered a 17% increase in passenger numbers last year, at 14.1 million.

Police have carried out further raids and seized several luxury cars in their investigation into alleged corruption relating to reconstruction projects following Storm Alex. We reported yesterday that the bosses of three building firms had been questioned by police. All three had won public tenders to help rebuild roads in the Vésubie valley that had been damaged by the 2020 storm. In total, 20 people from the three firms have been questioned by police so far. Several luxury cars were seized during searches at properties in Lantosque and Roquebillière.

After Tuesday's landslide blocked off the village of Coaraze in the Paillon valley, several other departmental roads have been hit by rockfall. The RN85 between Nice and Digne-les-Bains was able to reopen last night after geologists managed to secure the cliff face from collapse. Fifty cubic metres of debris were cleared from the road, which had been closed since Monday. Meanwhile, the RD2566 between Menton and Sospel has been cut off since yesterday lunchtime, again due to a landslide.

Two men from Marseille have been jailed for eight and 18 months respectively for their involvement in a spate of motorbike thefts in the Var. The pair told court that they had been recruited by the operation's ringleader in Marseille to make regular trips in a van to Toulon to steal mainly BMW motorbikes. Police caught the pair at a motorway service area near La Seyne and found a bike stolen from La Valette in the back of the van, as well as the number plate of another bike that had been reported stolen.

Meanwhile, three thieves have been jailed for 18 months each for a series of thefts from sports cars in the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes. They used a scanner to intercept the radio signal sent from the key fob when the car's owners locked the doors remotely. They were then able to gain access to the vehicles themselves, stealing bank cards, cash, computers and designer jackets.

A former OGC Nice midfielder is one of four footballers suing the sticker giant Panini, claiming it used their photos without permission. Jérémy Pied, who played for Nice from 2012 to 2016, has brought a legal claim at a Paris court for the infringement of his image rights. All four are seeking damages from Panini and the National Union of Professional Footballers. The sticker album publisher denies any wrongdoing. A judgment has been postponed until 15th May.

And Menton tourist board has unveiled its summer plan to attract visitors to the area. Its main focus this year will be on nearby markets, including French and Italian tourists, plus visitors from the UK and Scandinavia. A big priority for the summer season will be advertising nature and outdoor activities such as mountain biking and hiking. Menton will also organise an eco-tourism festival in mid-June, in partnership with the Mercantour national park.


Shell has warned that it may slow the pace of its emissions reductions this decade as it prepares to keep its oil production stable while growing its liquified natural gas business. The oil giant used its latest energy transition strategy to water down a promise to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of the energy it sells by 20% by 2030 versus the 2016 baseline. The updated target is a range of between 15% and 20% over the same period.

Bank transfers in the UK could be delayed by up to four days under draft laws to let payment providers investigate fraud for longer. The legislation would give providers 72 hours on top of the existing 24 to contact customers, police and others when they have reasonable grounds to suspect fraud or dishonesty. The legislation will apply to what are called authorised push payments - APPs - which scammers used to steal £485m from victims in 2022. APP scams happen when fraudsters trick victims into initiating and authorising a transaction, often by posing as legitimate organisations such as banks, businesses or the police. Payment service providers have generally been required to process payments by the end of the following business day.

And Bitcoin has once again hit a new all-time high, rising to $73,699. The cryptocurrency has been scaling new highs, and got its latest boost this week after the UK financial regulator said it would allow the trading of cryptocurrency-backed securities.


Tennis - World number two Aryna Sabalenka fell to a surprise defeat by Emma Navarro in the fourth round of Indian Wells. Sabalenka, who successfully defended her Australian Open title in January, lost 6-3 3-6 6-2 to the 23rd seed. Navarro was cheered on by the California crowd as she reached her first WTA 1000 quarter-final. Fellow American and third seed Coco Gauff claimed a 6-0 6-2 win over Belgium's Elise Mertens. Gauff wrapped up the first set in just 25 minutes.

Formula One - Lando Norris says McLaren have not yet made as much progress as he would have hoped to eradicate the lingering weaknesses in the team's car for 2024. McLaren and their new MCL38 car have made a solid start to the new campaign with two double points finishes and a best race finish of fourth so far with Oscar Piastri last weekend in Saudi Arabia. The team sit ahead of Mercedes in third place in the early Constructors' Championship. Norris, who claimed six runner-up finishes in the final 13 grands prix of last season, is still awaiting his first Grand Prix win after 106 starts.

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