Electric moped-sharing comes to Brooklyn

In Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Motorized Wheels Can Be Rented by the Minute

July 30, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Revel Transit founders demonstrated how easy it is to rent and ride a moped at a press conference in Bushwick on Monday. The city’s first-ever shared electric moped service works like Citi Bike. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Brooklynites have already embraced car- and bike-share services like Zipcar and Citi Bike.

Now, a new mode of shared transportation has come to the borough. On Monday, a startup called Revel Transit launched the city’s first-ever shared electric moped service.

Founders Frank Reig and Paul Suhey demonstrated the company’s shiny new Torrot models — one of the most popular brands in Europe, they say — at a press conference in Bushwick. The pair said that 20 mopeds were already parked on the streets of Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and 48 more will be distributed within the next couple of days.

A moped is legally defined as any low-powered motorcycle with an engine capacity no greater than 50cc, and a max speed under 30 mph. Revel’s mopeds weigh about 190 pounds and can be handled by men and women, young or old, the founders said.

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The team chose the three neighborhoods to start their pilot program because “Bushwick is where Citi Bike ends — it’s a transit desert,” Suhey said. He added, “On top of that, with the [upcoming] L-train shutdown we’re looking for new kinds of transit.”

Users can find and rent the mopeds using Revel’s cellphone app. The first 20 minutes of riding cost $4 and every minute thereafter costs 25 cents. Users can park their wheels — say to eat or shop — for $3 an hour before riding them back to their home neighborhood. The fee includes insurance, and a helmet comes packed with each moped.

Suhey called the mode of transport the “missing link from New York’s transportation network.” He added, “We look forward to e-mopeds becoming an integrated part of the city’s transit system, especially in areas underserved by existing infrastructure.”

Reig said that San Francisco has about 700 shared mopeds in place, and there are “several thousand” in Paris and Berlin, where they are very popular.

Rides in Brooklyn and Queens Only

To sign up, users must have a valid driver’s license, pay $25 for a background check and take a free short lesson in how to operate the vehicle if they have no experience on motorized two-wheel transit.

And sorry Manhattan — the mopeds must stay within Brooklyn and Queens and they can’t be ridden over highways or major bridges. Users will be fined if they try this or if they park illegally. Late at night or early in the morning, Revel staffers will find all the vehicles and swap in fresh battery packs.

The vehicles are street legal because they are ranked as Class B, reaching a top speed of 29 mph. (As such, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, they can only operate in either the right-hand lane or along the shoulder.) When the ride is over, the user has to park it in a spot that’s legal for the next 24 hours. This shouldn’t be too difficult, because the vehicles are parked perpendicular to the curb, requiring under five feet of open space.

The pilot program will run through December, after which Reig and Suhey will analyze what they did right and what has to change, they said. They plan to expand, but didn’t want to discuss what neighborhoods were next to get the service “until we make sure New Yorkers want this,” Reig told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The startup has cleared the service with the NYC Department of Transportation, the local police precincts and elected officials, they said.

“Revel adds a missing piece to our city’s transit puzzle at a time when it couldn’t be more necessary,” Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg-Bushwick) said in a statement. Reynoso called the vehicles affordable and environmentally friendly.

New users automatically get $8 in riding credit (two free rides). In addition, Revel is currently offering users an additional $15 riding credit that expires on 8/30. The promotional code is “RevelAndGo” and provides up to $23 total in riding credits, equivalent to five free rides.

Suhey has a background in chemical engineering and get his start in business “selling his grandmother’s hot pepper recipe,” he said in his bio. Reig is a trained chef with experience at NYC restaurants including Gramercy Tavern. The idea for Revel mopeds came about after their work at Gerson Lehrman Group organizing and moderating investment research events on clean transportation solutions.

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