Emerging technology was supposed to help usher in a new era of urban transportation. Instead, it seems to be getting people killed and injured.
Since launching in the summer of 2018, Revel had allowed users to rent mopeds on-demand throughout New York City. As of July 28, 2020, the vehicles are no longer on the streets. The reason? A spate of dangerous incidents, including separate crashes that left two people dead.
Revel removes its mopeds after deadly wrecks
Nina Kapur was a 26-year-old reporter for CBS in New York. Jeremy Malave, 32, helped care for his adoptive father who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Both died in separate Revel moped crashes – Kapur on July 18, Malave just over a week later. In both wrecks, police said the moped operator lost control of the bike.
Hours after the most recent incident, Revel made a dramatic decision to pull its 1,000-plus mopeds off the streets for the foreseeable future. The startup said it would be “reviewing and strengthening our rider accountability and safety measures.”
But critics say evidence of a problem has been mounting for quite a while.
Are Revel mopeds unsafe?
Companies have a responsibility to provide customers with a safe product. One former Revel employee told the New York Post that often was not the case with the rentable mopeds. The ex-worker called the vehicles “cheap” and described a host of issues, including:
- Poor performance in the rain
- Batteries that would die mid-ride
- Users that would fail to report a damaged moped – meaning the subsequent renter may unknowingly get on an unserviced, unsafe bike
“You never really know if you’re going to get a safe and reliable vehicle,” the former employee said. “It’s kind of like a lottery.”
Revel disputed the claims, citing its “strict safety policies” and proactive repairs system.
Still, the number of personal injury lawsuits involving Revel has quickly climbed. Anyone can hop on and go up to 30 mph, even if they have no training or experience, which some of the lawsuits point to as a safety concern. And one plaintiff has claimed the moped froze while in use, leading to a crash and a leg fracture.
When you choose to rent a vehicle – an e-scooter, a bike, a moped – you expect it to function. You expect it to be safe. Sadly, when a rentable machine does not live up to this standard, it can put a rider directly in harm’s way.