Revel Transit and similar companies need to step up their game.
Riding in a congested city center on a motorcycle can be tough. Doing the same thing on a bicycle is even worse, in my experience—because at least on my motorbike I’m wearing better protection and can get myself out of a bad situation a bit quicker with my throttle hand. What happens when you add untrained moped riders capable of going at speeds up to 30 mph into the mix? Unsurprisingly, injuries and lawsuits if you’re Revel Transit in New York.
As we’ve noted before with stand-up e-scooters, the idea behind electric scooters is not inherently bad. We all want people to have multiple options for getting around, especially if those options are more environmentally friendly. Electric mopeds (or “sit-on scooters,” as some publications have termed them) like the ones that Revel uses in various cities require training, even if you don’t need a license to operate one.
After all, you don’t need a license to operate a bicycle, either. That still doesn’t stop parents from nervously hovering and offering pointers as their kids roll off for the first time using training wheels. Those same parents also probably strap knee and elbow pads on those same kids, make sure those kids are wearing helmets, and will also lovingly kiss the ouchies away if those kids fall and suffer any scrapes. Revel doesn’t need to offer bandaids, juice, and kisses to riders (ew), but it does need to offer better training options.
NYC Streetsblog noted what it believed was Revel’s first injury lawsuit in New York in August 2019. Personal injury attorney Daniel Flanzig filed a lawsuit on behalf of cyclist Paul Dicesare, who suffered a broken ankle that required surgery after allegedly being hit by a Revel rider.
“He basically made a turn into my client,” Flanzig said. “My client was on the left-hand side of the moped when the moped made a left turn into him.” The Revel rider was also trying to make a left turn, which is both how and when the crash happened. There’s a video, but it doesn’t show precisely what happened during the crash.
The New York Post notes that seven separate personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Revel since its May 2019 full-scale launch (there was previously a small pilot program, but May is when the company went full force). Another incident in August 2019 involved a rideshare driver slamming into a Revel rider at an intersection, throwing that rider approximately 10 feet from the scoot. The rider was not wearing a helmet and was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, according to Business Insider, which had a reporter on the scene.
No license or formal training is required to rent a Revel scooter. The company does offer limited training, but the existing classes are so crowded, there were reportedly two-month and longer wait periods to get into one as of August. (Winter courses at the Gowanus location are wide open, however.) Meanwhile, would-be Revel riders have places to go and things to do, so they hop on and try to figure it out for themselves. There’s a training bottleneck, and it’s making both the general public and Revel riders themselves more unsafe.
The little electric mopeds are popular. By the end of August 2019, over 500,000 riders had gone places on Revels, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The riding pace has no doubt slowed in New York in January, but the numbers are still undoubtedly higher by now. With numbers like that in mind, seven personal injury lawsuits may not seem like much—but Revel could do a lot to aid both rider and NY resident safety by enhancing its training availability.
There’s a video course Revel users can watch, too, but as motorcyclists know, a video can help—but it’s no substitute for hands-on experience. I’m just spitballing here, but perhaps even reaching out to the MSF to coordinate some kind of electric training program is an option? At the very least, finding a way to offer more of the course they’re currently offering at different locations across the city would help.