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Common Tread

Revel suspends electric scooter rentals in NYC after two fatalities

Jul 30, 2020

Who could have seen this coming? Apparently if you put people with no motorcycle license and possibly no riding experience on unfamiliar electric scooters and turn them loose in New York City traffic, some of them get hurt. And when a high-profile customer dies, it's even worse for business.

Last year, Andy tested the Revel electric scooter rental service in Washington, D.C., and found it to be an attractive option for urban mobility. But then Andy is an experienced motorcyclist and a lot of Revel customers aren't. A motorcycle license is not required to rent one of the scooters because they're limited to 30 mph, and although a helmet is provided with the rental, many people are reluctant to use it. Not surprisingly, quite a few Revel customers crashed and hurt themselves.

It got worse for Revel a little over a week ago when Nina Kapur, a 26-year-old reporter at a CBS television station in New York, died as a passenger in a Revel crash. Neither she nor the man she was riding with were wearing helmets, even though they are required both by New York state law and the Revel rental agreement.

After a second fatal crash, Revel announced yesterday in a tweet it was suspending service in New York.

Even before the deaths, Revel felt the need to communicate with customers in New York about complaints that users were ignoring traffic laws, riding on sidewalks, and even riding against traffic flow, as shown in this CBS report after Kapur's death.

So I started this article by asking rather facetiously, "Who could have seen this coming?" Well, for one, Andy did when he tested the Revel concept. As he wrote in his article:

"Imagine a user, who had never ridden a scooter before, hopping on a 215-pound Revel for the first time. How prepared are they for riding on the street in city traffic? Did they actually watch the optional instructional video, or did they skip it? Are they wearing their helmet like they're supposed to? Could they possibly recognize the risks of riding? And, to complicate the situation, is a passenger coming along for this maiden voyage?"

As we've seen in New York, the answers to those questions were too often the wrong ones.