Thousands of Revels returned to New York City streets on Thursday, after the death of two riders last month forced the electric moped-sharing company to suspend service.
As part of their relaunch, and following negotiations with the city, the company agreed to implement more robust safety protocols.
Riders will be forced to take a selfie showing they're wearing a helmet, and will be hit with a suspension for running red lights or driving the wrong way down a one-way street. All users are required to complete a 21-question in-app quiz — sample questions: "Does Revel clean its helmets?" Answer: Yes — and watch a three minute instructional video.
The service, which first landed in Brooklyn and Queens last May, permits users to ride the zippy two-wheelers without a motorcycle license, since speeds are capped at 30 miles-per-hour. The company quickly racked up a spate of injury lawsuits from riders, some of whom claimed they encountered faulty brakes and balding tires on the scooters.
The company's first death was reported last month, after 26-year-old CBS2 reporter Nina Kapur was killed while riding on the back of one of the mopeds in Greenpoint. The second fatality came on July 28th, when Jeremy Malave, 32, crashed into a center median on Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens. The company announced they were temporarily suspending operations hours later.
A third rider, Francisco Nunez, died this month from injuries suffered from crashing into a light pole in Manhattan three days before the service was suspended.
Following the first two fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the company could face a permanent ban from the city. "They won't be able to reopen until it can be done safely," he said.
The relaunch has the support of the Department of Transportation, a spokesperson confirmed.
Street safety advocates described the mopeds as filling a useful role in the city's transportation landscape, particularly as Citi Bike struggles to meet its e-bike goals, and as more New Yorkers turn to cars as a result of the pandemic.
"As NYC recovers from this crisis, we must ensure that all residents have access to safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation alternatives to avoid growing levels of car usage and ownership,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of TransAlt.