Revel: New Transportation Mode or Public Health Hazard?

While most people consider scooters and mopeds to be a safer mode of transportation, residents of Brooklyn and Queens have an entirely different experience thanks to Revel — the new moped-rental service. With a valid driver’s license, $5, the Revel smartphone app, and no training; users can rent one of the 1,000 electric-powered scooters and carouse through the boroughs. To the start-up company’s dismay, however, Revel has hit several speed bumps — primarily due to poor training and faulty parts. The result has been an onslaught of personal injury lawsuits by drivers as well as those injured by scooter drivers.

A Moped Gange of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Among those bringing lawsuits is Paul Dicesare who was a bicyclist that suffered a broken ankle in June allegedly due to a Revel rider. Dicesare’s attorney claims Revel was “vicariously liable” for the negligent, careless, and reckless acts of its driver. At the same time, Revel rider Afadikwei Reyes filed a lawsuit claiming the moped locked up and caused him to wreck, which left him with two leg fractures. Together, Reyes and Dicesare are among seven different people who have filed personal injury lawsuits against Revel. This amounts to an astronomical rate of one lawsuit per month since Revel expanded its offering to 1,000 back in May 2019.

Speeding Toward Danger Under 30 MPH

Currently, a motorcycle license isn’t required for mopeds that do not exceed 30 MPH. As an obviously low barrier, many experienced motorcycle drivers suggest this loophole is a fast track to disaster. Nick Trocano, manager of Brooklyn motorcycle shop Union Garage, says he has consistently witnessed inexperienced Revel riders circumvent laws and engage in aggressive driving practices, such as speeding along areas that are designated off-limits to scooters and cutting against traffic through bike lanes. He said he has also witnessed Revel riders driving without helmets, which are required by law. And when drivers engage in such reckless practices in densely populated areas, everyone is in danger.

When asked to comment on the trend, the company asserted they do not comment on pending lawsuits. However, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn-based startup explained that Revel offers free, in-person lessons to new riders who are looking to practice and learn more about the vehicles in a supervised, comfortable setting.