The popular electric moped-share Revel is discontinuing service in New York City, the company announced on Twitter on Tuesday, while it is “reviewing and strengthening our rider accountability and safety measures and communicating with city officials.” The decision comes hours after a second person died riding a Revel within a span of a little over a week.
For the last year, Revel scooters have been a constant presence in Brooklyn and Queens, and during the pandemic the service expanded to certain parts of Manhattan. Revel doesn’t release ridership statistics, but with New Yorkers generally avoiding the subways and buses as much as possible and with Citibike as the only other non-taxi shared mobility service in the city, Revel became a popular transportation option the few times New Yorkers actually have somewhere to go. Revel also operates in Washington, D.C., Austin, Miami, Oakland, and will soon launch in San Francisco. Revel declined to provide further comment.
The death of TV reporter Nina Kapur on July 19, who was riding as a passenger on the moped, is believed to be the first fatality involving a Revel rider since the company launched. Although the scooters cannot go faster than 30 miles per hour they have often been portrayed in media reports as potentially dangerous.
Revel requires users to have a driver's license in order to rent the moped, but that has not stopped many riders from driving them irresponsibly. The week before Kapur’s death, the company sent out an email to active users announcing it had recently suspended 1,000 riders for “bad behavior,” according to the New York Times. Revel is also being sued by riders injured on the mopeds and people struck by them.
Even though Revel clearly has safety issues to work through, this tragically underscores the fact that every other form of transportation is held to a much higher safety standard than private vehicles. In June alone, 17 motorists died in crashes on New York City streets, according to the website Crashmapper, which gets its data from the city. SUVs in particular are disproportionately involved in deadly crashes in New York City and nationally, yet nothing is done to regulate their usage on city streets. Articles highlighting potential dangers with Revel mopeds typically underscore that they are engineered to travel five mph faster than the citywide speed limit of 25 mph, as if every private car on the city’s roads isn’t capable of traveling much faster than that.
Revel said in its tweet that “we look forward to serving you again in the near future” but would not comment on when that might be.