NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is reviewing a plan from moped-sharing company Revel to make a return to city streets. The controversial service was shut down last month after three people died, including CBS2 reporter Nina Kapur.
Recently, the driver in an accident in Washington Heights died from his injuries. The company has already made changes in other cities. Will it be enough here?
From March to July, all five boroughs except Staten Island saw multiple instances of Revel riders disregarding the law, including riding on sidewalks, not wearing helmets, driving in parks and highways where they are not allowed, and running red lights, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
But during July, three people died while riding a Revel. First our beloved colleague Kapur, who was 26, then 32-year-old Jeremy Malave, and recently 30-year-old Francis Nunez.
The NYPD said 2.5% of all motorcycle accidents this year have been on Revels. In most accidents documented by cops and St. Barnabas Hospital, helmets were not worn and users didn’t know how to operate the vehicle, Rozner reported.
“It was just getting to the point where I was feeling very uncomfortable riding them,” moped rider Bruce Caines said.
Caines, of Washington Heights, stopped using Revel and got his own moped after finding too many vehicles were damaged, and the company wasn’t fixing them.
“I’m really sorry for the loss of life for those people who, unfortunately, believed that Revel was looking out for their safety,” Caines said.
On July 28, the mayor said the service would stop, announcing, “Folks are using something that in many ways is like a motorcycle, without having to have a license like you need to with a motorcycle and, therefore, you know, a certain amount of training and all. It stands to reason that it’s going to put people in harm’s way,” de Blasio said.
A spokesperson for the mayor said de Blasio is reviewing a plan for its return, and on Tuesday the company announced two changes that it says would make the rides safer in other cities it operates.
One requires drivers to complete a mandatory in-app training that takes an average of 20 minutes, followed by a test. The other requires users to take a selfie to show they are wearing a helmet. The ride will not begin until the selfie has been taken.
“I’ve been impressed with how they’ve used this pause to strengthen safety protocols. It’s important we get their over 300 employees back to work and continue offering alternative transportation options to New Yorkers,” Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso tweeted.
Currently, only a driver’s license is required to operate the 30 mph moped, which is considered by New York state to be a Class B motorcycle.
Attorney Daniel Flanzig, who now represents 10 clients suing Revel, said the company’s changes are a good start, depending on the contents of the in-app training test.
“I hope it has to deal with both the rules of the road and operational issues of using the bike. Do you have an understanding of the brakes? Do you have an understanding of the acceleration?” Flanzig said. “The only way we’re going to know whether or not this new rollout is going to work is, unfortunately, going to be by trips to the hospital.”
No timeline has come from the mayor’s office or Revel on the plan. A Revel spokesperson said the company is actively in talks with city leaders and, “will have more info soon.”
A representative for City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez told Rozner the lawmaker will provide more information on Thursday.
“Before Revel decided to shut down services in New York City, we were having conversations with Revel representatives discussing our concerns related to the safety of riders. We are in the process of working with legislation that would create procedures by which shared moped organizations may apply for approval to operate a shared moped fleet in New York City. At the moment we haven’t heard of a specific date for the possible return of the revel mopeds, however, we are monitoring the situation closely and we’ll be sure to provide you with updates,” Rodriguez’s spokesperson said.
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