Reporter Lisa Rozner Takes Lesson, Asks City Lawmakers Their Opinions On How Well Moped Ride-Sharing Service Is Doing Following Deaths

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thursday marks one week since Revel mopeds returned to city streets.

Three people died using them this summer, including our CBS2 colleague, reporter Nina Kapur.

Police said Kapur, like most involved in Revel accidents, was not wearing a helmet, which is required by law.

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Revel says new measures are making the rides safer.

So on Wednesday, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner put them to the test.

Since the moped ride-sharing service’s relaunch last week, CBS2 has seen some drivers in compliance. However, there have still been multiple examples of riders not wearing a helmet and not following the rules of the road, like traveling on highways and in bike lanes.

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This all despite new measures like a required 20-minute online test, and a selfie that the user must submit showing them with their helmet on, before the ride can start.

“This is not a bicycle. It’s a motorized scooter,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat said.

“I have a lot of concern and I don’t know how safe. I expressed to them I still needed to see more work related to safety in place, that they need to consult the community members,” City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez said.

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Rodriguez and Espaillat want the city to create a specialized license for moped riders, but Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said there was pressure from anti-car advocates to let the vehicles run as is.

So Rozner signed up for an account and took the 20-minute in-app test.

The 21 questions included verifying which roads were legal, asking her to confirm that Revel cleans its helmets, and telling her that she should take public transportation if she has had a few drinks.

The only operational instructions were a quick bit on a video, including telling her the throttle controls the acceleration — pulling it toward the body will increase the moped’s speed.

However, despite completing the online course, Rozner still felt unsure how to operate the moped and decided against taking one out, saying, “I really have no idea what I’m doing here.”

One of her co-workers, who is not registered with Revel, was able to travel on it without even wearing a helmet, which the company claims is not allowed and it is doing a better job of tracking.

Since Rozner did not feel prepared, she signed up for the optional in-person lesson and got a spot within an hour.

Three instructors waited for her at a dead end on 202nd Street. They went over which roads Revel mopeds are not allowed on and explained how to put on the helmet, how to start the vehicle, how to slow down and brake, and how to turn.

But, ultimately, riding the Revel did not come naturally. At one point she almost fell off while braking.

It’s not clear how the city will monitor success of these safety measures, but it’s a good thing the instructors told Rozner she can take four more classes for free.

Time and experience seem to be the keys to making Revel a safer option.

Revel declined an interview, but a spokesperson told Rozner ridership is steadily rising, adding the company has strengthened its suspension policies and is looking for more ways to enforce its helmet-wearing policy.

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