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Riders mourn as Revel ends moped sharing program in NYC

Revel got its start in Brooklyn, but will now focus on EV projects

November 6, 2023 Mary Frost
Revel moped
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After five years of providing shared mopeds in New York City, Revel is shutting down the program, company spokesperson Robert Familiar told the Brooklyn Eagle on Saturday.

“Revel’s CEO Frank Reig informed all employees yesterday that the company is bringing an end to its shared electric moped service,” Familiar said. The last day for the shared mopeds will be Nov. 18 in both New York City and San Francisco.

The company will now “fully focus on its all-EV, all-employee rideshare and public fast charging businesses,” Familiar said. Revel is currently developing large public fast charging networks in New York and the Bay Area.

Revel’s moped ridership has fallen since it peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, when commuters were avoiding mass transit, according to TechCrunch. New York and San Francisco were Revel’s last two moped-sharing markets. 

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Revel charging station. Photo courtesy of Revel

There are also dozens of lawsuits against Revel, blaming the mopeds (classified as Class B motorcycles, with a top speed of 30 mph) or their riders for serious injuries and deaths, many on the streets of Brooklyn. One highly-publicized crash in Greenpoint killed CBS News reporter Nina Kapur in 2020. Kapur’s family is suing Revel.

New York City court records lists 77 lawsuits naming Revel Transit as a defendant since it began operations here. Most of the lawsuits claim that the vehicles are poorly maintained, with faulty brakes or steering. They also claim Revel allows untrained riders to use the mopeds.

However, Revel requires that customers agree to an arbitration clause in order to ride the vehicles — something that some riders say they didn’t notice when signing up on their cellphones. Judges have enforced the arbitration requirement in most cases that have been settled, staying court proceedings pending the outcome. (This clause does not apply to pedestrians, cyclists or others run down by moped riders, however.)

Revel co-founders Frank Reig (left) and Paul Suhey at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as the company expanded in 2019. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Born in Brooklyn 

Revel’s moped service, under founders Frank Reig and Paul Suhey, got its start in Brooklyn in July 2018, when the company parked 68 of the vehicles on the streets of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. 

Ten months later, the company distributed 1,000 mopeds across Brooklyn and Queens. 

“You just experience the city in a different way when you’re on two wheels with the wind in your face,” Suhey told reporters during the 2019 expansion.

Revel usage boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, Revel offered free rides for all health care workers and expanded its service area so users could access major hospital centers during the coronavirus outbreak. 

This woman demonstrated how to ride a Revel moped during the 2019 rollout at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Fun while it lasted

While some commenters on social media sites like Reddit and NextDoor applauded the demise of the program, calling it unsafe or annoying, many mourned the end of the convenient and fun rides, and blamed a small number of careless customers for spoiling it for everyone else. 

“Proof that New York straight up cannot have nice things. 100% of the problems with these scooters are due to negligent users,” said “haydennt” on Reddit. 

”These were a fantastic way to get around. Cheaper, faster through traffic, and more fun than Uber. And gets you between neighborhoods that aren’t well connected by transit. Going from south Brooklyn to Williamsburg or Queens always sucks by subway,” commented Reddit user Manezinho. 

This is what 1,000 Revel mopeds look like. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

One commenter on NextDoor blamed “stupid people” for not wearing the helmets that Revel provides for free. Others reported seeing riders violate rules, like riding “on the FDR in the express lane at dawn, with no helmet.”

But for those who followed the rules of the road, the mopeds were a great way to get around, many said.

The decision was “really unfortunate,” Park Slope resident Christopher Olstein said. The mopeds were “one of the most enjoyable ways to navigate the city.”

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