NYC Scooter Sharing Service Revel Shuts Down After 2nd Rider Death in 10 Days

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Revel, a service that offers electric scooter sharing in multiple cities, suspended operations in New York City on Tuesday after the second death of a rider this month.

"New York riders - starting today, NYC service will be shut down until further notice. We’re reviewing and strengthening our rider accountability and safety measures and communicating with city officials, and we look forward to serving you again in the near future," the company tweeted.

A company spokesperson declined to comment beyond the tweet.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also tweeted saying "transportation alternatives are important but safety on our streets is paramount." He also said at a press conference that city officials spoke to Revel executives on Tuesday and made clear the company’s safety record is “an unacceptable state of affairs.”

“When you see an incident, a few incidents, it causes concern,” de Blasio said. “Our people have been talking to Revel, and they’ve been making changes, but not enough changes is the bottom line. This has just gotten to be too much.”

The suspension came less than 8 hours after a Brooklyn man died in the crash of a Revel scooter in Queens. The NYPD said 32-year-old Jeremy Malave struck a light pole in a median on Woodhaven Boulevard and died of head injuries.

That death was the second in 10 days; on July 18 WCBS reporter Nina Kapur died after the crash of a Revel scooter in Manhattan.

Revel's electric mopeds are limited to speeds of 30 miles per hour, and its posted rules required riders to wear a helmet — but that hasn't always been the case, with riders spotted helmetless before. The vehicles are also prohibited on sidewalks and in bike lanes, and are intended to ride in the roadways with traffic.

The black and blue scooters, which require a driver’s license but no training to rent, had been seen as an alternative to taxis and subways during the coronavirus pandemic. The company had seen ridership nearly double since March.

An attorney who represents seven people who have suffered injuries in Revel accidents says the company wasn't held to strict enough standards as, for example, Citi Bike.

"I think Revel could've done more to make riders understand these are not toys, there's a risk to riding them," said attorney Daniel Flanzig. "Finally the city is stepping in and realizing that Revel needs to take a break, step back, take a look at their practices in terms of safety, and figure out if this is something that New York can handle."

Revel deployed its electric-powered mopeds to city streets in May 2019, ushering in a new wave of ride-sharing in an industry dominated by car services like Uber and Lyft. Since then, at least a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the company over injuries and scooter malfunctions.

They were dropped on the streets of Brooklyn and Queens initially, and now Manhattan, without any concerted effort with the City of New York. It was just a very different plan and unfortunately it didn't work as well as Citi Bike," said Flanzig.

Last month, Revel said it was suspending more than 1,000 riders for not wearing helmets, riding on sidewalks and other rules violations over the previous 30 days.

“When people misuse Revel it reflects poorly on every one of us. It upsets the communities we operate in, threatens the relationships we have with local leaders, and, worst of all, puts others on the road at risk,” the company said in an email announcing that move.

Revel will face increased scrutiny as it regroups and a spokesperson for the company told NBC New York that they are actively communicating with city officials as it re-evaluates safety protocols.

De Blasio said Revel suspending its New York City operations is the “right thing to do,” and that the company must come up with a way to make the service safe before the city allows it to resume.

"No one should be running a business that is not safe," de Blasio said during a press conference. "Unfortunately, this has been proven to be not safe. We will work with Revel, we will not allow them to reopen unless we are convinced it can be done safely."

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