A Revel moped won’t go above 30 mph, and that puts them in a category less regulated than motorcycles, which require a special license to operate. According to the Brooklyn-based company, there are about 3,000 Revel mopeds in New York City, and riders are averaging about 100,000 miles per day.
Yet there have been dozens of lawsuits brought by people who claim the ride-share scooters malfunctioned and injured them — or that Revel riders injured them.
Now, there have been two deaths.
The first one occurred on July 18. A young television reporter named Nina Kapur fell from a Revel scooter where she was a passenger. Her death was believed to be the first one involving a ride-share moped.
The second death involved a 32-year-old man who was riding a Revel scooter in Queens. He collided with a light pole in a center median.
Was Revel partially responsible for the deaths? It’s difficult to say without an investigation into the exact circumstances of each crash. However, Revel currently requires no training to ride, just a driver’s license. There is a $5 fee to get your license verified, but there is nothing to ensure riders are wearing helmets.
Are mopeds a safer alternative to driving?
Many people were excited when Revel entered the scene. The ride-share service promised to reduce the need for cars on city streets. The presence of the scooters could also provide transit coverage where mass-transit struggles. Reducing our reliance on cars could have great environmental benefits, and cars are prone to crashes, too.
What many people may not realize, however, is that mopeds expose their riders to a great deal more risk than cars do. Without a car’s external structure, you’re in line for anything from road rash to a major head injury or worse if you should be in a crash.
Yet helmets are only required for riders under the age of 18. Even then, it’s easy to rent a Revel without a helmet.
After Nina Kapur’s death, Revel told reporters that it had improved its rider safety procedures. The company said it has suspended over 2,000 Revel riders for safety violations in the last six weeks.
After the second death, the company suspended its New York City operations for a regrouping period — although it didn’t suspend its operations in other cities.
Now, Revel is promising new safety measures. For one, riders would have to take an in-app safety test before they could rent a moped from Revel. For another, riders would have to confirm that they are wearing a helmet, although that could mean just clicking a box on the app.
Do people understand the full extent of the risks?