Some tech-savvy passengers travelling with car service Uber had their vehicle come under attack in Paris, Monday.
According to witnesses, taxi drivers protesting competition from smartphone-driven companies like Uber, became violent toward an Uber car stopped at a roadblock. VentureBeat reports the passengers inside were Eventbrite executive Renaud Visage and Five by Five co-founder Kat Borlongan. She tweeted from the scene,
"Got attacked in an @uber by cab drivers on strike near Paris airport: smashed windows, flat tires, vandalized vehicle and bleeding hands." (Via Twitter / @KatBorlorgan)
Visage recalls about seven people, not yet confirmed as taxi drivers, attacked the car. He told CNET the attacks are undermining the taxi driver’s cause. He put it bluntly: "Attacking cars blindly is not smart. It's not a good PR move."
The roadblock was set up by protestors in an effort to filter traffic and target specific cars. Paris has seen a recent increase in companies like Uber, SnapCar, AlloCab, and LeCab which allow riders to flag cars using their smartphones.
The Verge reports as many as 5,000 taxi drivers are striking Monday across several French cities. They're defending their jobs, and contesting the government’s increase of the value- added tax on transports.
Monday’s attack isn’t the first “blow” to car services. Last year, the taxi union successfully lobbied for a law requiring all car service apps to wait ”at least 15 minutes” between taking a reservation and picking up a passenger. That rule went into effect January 1. Standard taxis are allowed to pick up passengers without waiting.
French blog Rude Baguette, who also reported on the attack, published another piece explaining how taxi drivers will be the "gravediggers of innovation" and it will be their undoing.
"You would think that such a law would appease anyone looking to sustain a monopoly. But like a child … the taxi union is throwing a tantrum. '15 minutes isn’t enough.'" (Via Rude Baguette)
Meanwhile, Uber Paris confirmed the attacks and responded to Monday’s incident, condemning the violence as "unacceptable."
Despite red tape and broken windows, roadblocks haven't stopped Parisians from embracing online transportation services. The Wall Street Journal reports Paris is one of Uber’s biggest markets outside of the United States.