Nearly one month to the day after Revel voluntarily suspended operations of its rented electric scooter fleet in NYC, the scooters have returned to the city.

The bright blue electric scooters, which can be rented by the minute via a smartphone app, restarted operations at 9 a.m. this morning.

However, the service came with important safety updates designed to prevent the type of problems that resulted in a series of back-to-back lethal accidents last month.

A few weeks ago, we got wind of new measures that Revel was working on, including enhanced safety training via the phone app as well as a method to ensure that riders were wearing helmets.

Now we’ve received confirmation of these updates from Revel, as well as a series of additional safety enhancements.

All of Revel’s electric scooters have always come with two DOT-certified helmets in the storage box, complete with tearaway hygienic liner. It has always been Revel’s policy that riders must wear the helmet, but enforcement had been lacking in the past.

To make sure riders actually wear the helmet from now on (or wear their own personal helmet), a helmet selfie feature has been added to the app. The rider must take a selfie wearing a helmet before riding, which activates the scooters.

revel electric moped

Revel is getting serious about the helmet rule, too. If you’re caught riding without a helmet, they’ll suspend your account. Have fun riding a busted up Bird scooter at a jogging pace afterward.

Revel has also begun selling DOT-certified helmets for $35 each so that users don’t have to share a helmet. If you’ve perused Amazon before looking for a DOT three-quarter helmet, you’ll know that $35 is a steal.

New in-app training has also been provided to give new riders a better understanding of how the 30 mph (48 km/h) electric scooters work, as well as explaining the local rules of the road. It includes a 21-question quiz that must be passed, including answering each question correctly twice (no lucky guesses!) before riders can use the service.

In addition, Revel is expanding the number of free in-person training sessions that it offers, where new riders can familiarize themselves with the vehicles and receive professional instruction on their operation. We HIGHLY recommend that new riders partake in these free training classes, especially those that have never ridden a moped, seated scooter or motorcycle before. Revel users can signup for a free class via the app.

A new community reporting tool is also being rolled out. It allows any New Yorker — even those without a Revel account — to report Revel riders who are seen riding irresponsibly, breaking Revel rules or local laws.

Revel is hoping that these changes can help ensure that riders use the service more responsibly, obey traffic laws, and always wearing a helmet.

As Revel CEO and co-founder Frank Reig explained:

“Revel was born and bred in New York City, and we’re proud to relaunch in our hometown with an even better service. With support from partners like the NYC Department of Transportation, we’re coming back stronger than ever and providing continued access to the more than 360,000 New Yorkers who rely on Revel to get around their city.” 

Electrek’s Take

Obviously everything about this is a good thing, including the fact that Revel has returned to NYC.

I’ve always been pro-rental scooters. I think that these seated electric scooters are an important part of the alternative transportation landscape, and even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic making public transit so risky.

They are perfect solutions for mid-length trips that are too long for Bird or Lime scooters, yet don’t really need a gas-guzzling Uber either.

I really hope that the public will take safety seriously though. For some reason, people have given overdue scrutiny to services like Revel. Of course, every death is a tragedy, but at a time when many seem to have turned a blind eye to the 1,000+ Americans dying every day from COVID-19, it took three deaths in a month to remove a critical service like Revel from the public. That kind of scrutiny means Revel and its riders need to operate like a city on a hill, providing the best possible example of how alternative and efficient transportation like these electric scooters can be a safe and practical solution to ridding our cities of polluting personal cars.

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