In recent years, tech companies have been moving into transportation markets by creating apps to enable people to find ways to get around. Ride-share apps, such as Lyft and Uber, have become commonplace and, more recently, scooters and mopeds that can be rented by the minute are popping up in cities across the United States.
One company, Revel, a Brooklyn-based tech company, has been steadily making its product available throughout New York City. The mopeds are produced by Niu, a manufacturer based in China, and can reach a speed of 30 mph in which speed falls below New York State law to require drivers to have a motorcycle license.
Revel makes it easy for people to ride by limiting speed, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. To ride one of their mopeds, all the user has to do is download the app, locate a moped, pay the fee, and start driving.
“Training is offered but is not a requirement to rent a moped. Furthermore, there is a waiting list for in-person lessons, which means people have limited access to this training and might be more apt to take the online tutorial – or worse – no training at all.”Andrew Levine – Raphaelson & Levine
Nina Kapur, a CBS New York reporter, succumbed to injuries suffered in a tragic Revel moped accident on Sat., July 18, 2020, in Brooklyn. Kapur was a passenger on the moped when an unidentified 26-year-old male driver swerved and both riders fell to the street. The accident occurred at about 5:30 p.m.
Kapur and the moped’s driver were rushed to Bellevue Hospital where the driver was said to have suffered minor injuries, but, sadly, the reporter was pronounced dead. NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is investigating the events surrounding the crash. It is unclear at this time why the driver swerved. Neither Kapur or the driver were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
The Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm was distressed and saddened to hear about the recent accident involving CBS reporter Nina Kapur and of other recent fatalities and injuries related to Revel’s mopeds.
In mid-2019, Revel debuted its mopeds in New York City in a limited capacity. Over the past year, they’ve been increasing availability throughout the five boroughs. Many New Yorkers have turned to Revel as a means to avoid public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Post reports data Revel shared with them: In the first 15 days of March, there were 4,181 riders per day, but fast-forward to the last 15 days of May, there were 8,881 riders per day.
In addition to New York, Revel mopeds are available in Washington D.C., Austin (Texas), Miami, and Oakland (California). Any person over the age of 21 with a valid driver’s license can drive one. In New York City, there are now more than 1,000 Revel mopeds being operated at any given time.
Unfortunately, along with increased use, comes increased accidents, with ER visits spiking in recent months.
“Many riders are not wearing helmets or following safety rules even though the company does provide helmets in the moped’s cargo area. Being Revel’s mopeds are not too far off from operating a motorcycle, it’s not surprising people are riding these mopeds without proper training or a special license would end up either causing accidents or getting hurt.” — Andrew Levine, Raphaelson & Levine
Couple these factors with the already hazardous accidents occurring in New York City, Revel is adding another risky component to NYC’s already overcrowded streets. For example, New York City has many busy – and poorly designed – roads. Sharing road space was difficult even before Revel thrust over 1,000 mopeds into the mix. Mopeds do not operate like bicycles or cars so few drivers are prepared to properly and safely ride them.
In June 2020, there were 7,456 motor vehicle collisions in New York City, with many injuries and fatalities, in just one month. NYPD doesn’t specifically include Revel moped accidents in their accident data, which means the probability of injuries over time is going to dramatically increase if and when more of these mopeds are released in New York City communities to use without better vetting out of drivers.
Since the system is still relatively new, it’s not yet quite known how many riders are disobeying the rules and causing accidents. However, numerous media reports cite witness accounts of seeing riders blatantly disregarding the rules. Furthermore, on July 17, 2020, the New York Post reported Revel announced they’d suspended 1,000 moped users in 30 days for safety violations.
The company indicates in addition to suspensions, they also fine users who break the rules. For instance, users are not supposed to ride in bike lanes, sidewalks, parks, bridges, highways, or tunnels. Riders are also supposed to wear a helmet. While these efforts might sound admirable, what’s alarming is the fact there are so many violators – and the fact Revel is aware of this incredibly large number of violators using their product and services.
Shortly after its launch, Revel faced its first personal injury lawsuit in summer 2019. At least seven other people have filed personal injury lawsuits against Revel since that time. At the rate of accidents currently occurring because of Revel moped operation, sadly, as time passes the probability of more and more people being injured, or worse, is going to increase.
Revel offers riders $50,000 liability insurance if they are involved in a crash, but it only is used if the rider doesn’t carry their own motor vehicle insurance. Also, the burden of proof for liability falls on the victim at this time since rider compliance is verified by the insurance company.
The personal injury attorneys at the Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm believe riders, passengers, cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians are being unnecessarily placed in harm’s way by inexperienced or careless moped riders. Since Revel isn’t actively monitoring who can drive their mopeds, it’s created a big problem. Essentially, the system they have designed is a free for all. Additionally, the way Revel’s policy is written means current and future victims have little means to recoup their losses or obtain money to pay for the treatment needed after suffering injuries.
If you, or someone you love, has been involved in an accident involving one, we are here to support you. Call us today at 212-268-3222 to receive a free consultation.