The NYPD is investigating a fatal crash involving a Revel scooter, the fourth this year and the first since the scooter-sharing service relaunched in August.
Police said Wednesday that a Sept. 29 crash on the Upper West Side, in which an 82-year-woman was hit in a crosswalk and died, involved a 23-year-old man riding one of Revel's electric scooters. The circumstances are still under investigation, the NYPD added.
Revel relaunched in New York City in late August, just one month after it shut down because of three fatal crashes in 10 days.
"Electric moped sharing is an increasingly important part of New York’s transportation ecosystem, especially as COVID-19 has created a real need for socially-distant modes," Revel CEO Frank Reig said in a statement. "Revel should face the same consideration for how it works on the streets as any other part of the transportation system - commercial trucks, livery, drivers of private vehicles and more. Our condolences are of course with the family of the person lost last month. As a company born and bred in New York, we care deeply about the city and its people. That’s why we’re working so hard to make New York’s streets work better for all of the city and why we’ve introduced industry-leading safety protocols across all seven of Revel’s markets. "
The company previously said it made changes to safety measures, which include new features to confirm that users are wearing helmets before they're allowed to ride. Riders must also answer a 21-question safety quiz, in which they have to get a perfect score.
The company has also added GPS tracking to all of the 3,000 scooters it has on NYC streets and it will be able to tell if people are riding in the wrong direction on a one-way street, or are riding in a park. Those that do so will face immediate suspension.
The black and blue scooters, which require a driver’s license but not a motorcycle license, had been seen as an alternative to taxis and subways during the coronavirus pandemic. The company had seen ridership nearly doubled since March.
Revel's electric mopeds are limited to speeds of 30 miles per hour. Its posted rules required riders to wear a helmet — but that wasn't always been the case, with riders repeatedly spotted helmetless since the scooters arrived in 2018. The vehicles are also prohibited on sidewalks and in bike lanes, and are intended to ride in the roadways with traffic.
It continues to operate in Austin, Miami, Oakland, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that city officials spoke to Revel executives after the July 28 death 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 at the time. “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 city's Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the city negotiated the new guidelines for the company — including the rule that riders and passengers have to take and send a selfie showing their wearing a helmet.
"The theory on the selfie picture is once you've put the helmet on and taken the picture, you're most likely not going to take it off," Trottenberg said.
Other safety changes included the company not allowing rides between midnight and 5 a.m. for the first 60 days of the relaunch, as the city said that too many crashes were happening in the overnight hours. The new accident that the NYPD disclosed Wednesday happened just before 7:30 a.m.