Revel is suspending its service in New York City after a man was killed riding one of the shared electric mopeds in Queens, making him the second customer to die while using the service in recent weeks.
According to the New York Post, Jeremy Malave, 32, was heading north on Woodhaven Boulevard in Middle Village at 3:15AM ET on Tuesday when he lost control of the Revel moped, slammed into a streetlight on a median, and was thrown from the vehicle. He was found by police at the scene with severe head trauma and was transported to North Shore Forest Hills Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was unclear whether he was wearing a helmet, which is provided by Revel.
Earlier this month, CBS News reporter Nina Kapur, 26, died while riding as a passenger on a Revel moped. Police say the moped driver swerved because he believed a car was pulling out of a spot and he was trying to avoid it. Police said Kapur was not wearing a helmet, as required by the company. The next day, a 38-year-old man was critically injured with head trauma while riding a Revel scooter in Queens.
On Tuesday, Revel said it would pause its service in New York City “until further notice” while it assesses the safety of its fleet of electric mopeds. The company also operates in Austin, Miami, and Washington, DC, and it recently announced plans to launch soon in San Francisco. A spokesperson for Revel declined to respond to questions about which safety measures the company would be reviewing, or whether it would be suspending service in other cities. “At this time, we will not be providing any further comments on this matter,” the company said.
The moped company has proven to be enormously popular since first launching in New York City in 2018. Since then, the company has seen its ridership grow to 300,000 people. Those customers have taken 3 million rides on Revel’s mopeds for a total of 10 million miles. The service has grown even more popular this year, with the coronavirus pandemic deterring many people from using subways and buses and seeking alternative modes of getting transportation.
It costs $19 to sign up for the app-based service. Tap a scooter on the map to reserve it (up to 15 minutes ahead of time) or book it right away. Each ride costs $1 to start ($2 if you have someone tagging along with you) and then $0.25 per minute. Each motor scooter also comes with two helmets, one big and one small, which are locked away in a cargo compartment at the back.
But the company has also drawn some harsh scrutiny. The company has been hit by at least a dozen lawsuits alleging that its mopeds are poorly serviced and dangerous to ride, according to NY1. Revel claims that all of its mopeds are inspected by trained mechanics before they are allowed on the road. On Monday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Manhattan Democrat, called on New York City’s government to shut down the service.
Following Kapur’s death, CBS This Morning broadcast a story showcasing footage of Revel customers misusing the company’s scooters by riding down crowded sidewalks, running red lights, or engaging in other dangerous behavior.
The company responded by noting that its mopeds are speed-capped at 30 mph, and customers are required to have valid drivers’ licenses (but notably, not motorcycle licenses) to ride. The mopeds are confined to local streets and are not allowed on sidewalks, highways, or bridges. Revel users are supposed to watch a short instructional video in the app. They also have the option of taking a 30-minute, in-person lesson. “We take reports of safety violations very seriously, and we work closely with city officials to address any violations,” Revel said in a statement to CBS.
The company also tracks its mopeds using GPS technology and suspends customers caught breaking its rules. Earlier this month, Revel suspended over 1,000 customers for safety violations.
At a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Revel’s approach to safety “unsatisfactory and unacceptable,” according to The New York Times. Still, the company’s decision to suspend service was its own, not a result of a city order.
It’s unclear what the future has in store for Revel. Many of the problems it is now facing were also faced by its counterparts in the shared electric scooter industry. Scooter startups like Bird and Lime were hit with dozens of lawsuits alleging safety infractions. And as the number of people injured or killed while riding scooters mounted, there were many predictions made about the imminent demise of scooter sharing. Yet, shared scooters are still around and still being ridden by thousands of customers all over the US, Asia, and Europe.