Haven’t seen blue mopeds zooming around the Bronx recently?
Revel has suspended its electric moped sharing service in the northernmost borough because device parts were being stolen.
Before the company pulled its devices off of Bronx streets, Bronxites were able to locate and unlock the devices from an app on their phones. The mopeds remain available in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Revel representatives declined to comment beyond the statement.
However, a person close to the situation told the Bronx Times that the moped batteries were a target of the thefts.
The company’s CEO and co-founder Frank Reig said demand was “off the charts” when the company expanded its Bronx fleet in June 2020, an effort announced in conjunction with City Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr., who praised the alternate form of transportation. The mopeds initially launched in the borough in April 2020.
Salamanca told the Bronx Times Tuesday that the expansion of Revel into the Bronx was well-received by Bronxites who lacked an affordable transportation option to get to and from their homes, workplaces or the subway.
“As a vocal supporter of Revel’s rollout, I was disappointed to hear the widespread theft of essential scooter parts and equipment has led to the suspension of service in the Bronx,” the councilman said. “I remain committed to working with Revel, city officials and community stakeholders on how we can safely restore service for the thousands of riders who rely on the service daily.”
This isn’t the first time Revel has had problems in New York City.
The company suspended its service citywide on July 28, 2020, after two people died from crashes on the devices; there had been 330 Revel crashes so far that year. In August, a third person succumbed to injuries from a Revel crash that took place before the suspension went into effect.
The company put its devices back on the streets one month later, with heightened user training and penalties for drivers who break traffic rules.
The city Department of Transportation (DOT) was given oversight of the new safety policies, but the city agency told the Bronx Times it could not answer questions about the Bronx suspension, deferring to Revel.
A DOT spokesman did say, however, that none of the companies participating in the Bronx e-scooter pilot, which launched in August 2021, have flagged theft of devices as a major issue.
Lime, one of the companies participating in the e-scooter pilot, also rents out mopeds in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. A spokesman declined to comment on whether theft of moped parts has been an issue for the company.
In September 2020, the New York Post reported that a man was arrested for stripping the Revel mopeds of their parts, after the NYPD’s 77th Precinct in Brooklyn tweeted that someone was tampering with the devices.
In September 2021, DOT instructed Revel to ban its devices from the Manhattan and Queensboro bridges over safety concerns, gutting the only two options Revel riders had to get to Brooklyn or Queens from Manhattan. The devices can’t go faster than 28 mph, and the bridges have speed limits of 35 mph, which is higher than the city’s 25 mph norm. DOT pointed to the speed discrepancy and acknowledged that traffic sometimes moves faster than the 35 mph limit.
Just a couple of days after the company notified users of the rule, a 22-year-old who lost control of a Revel moped was fatally run over by a drunk driver after falling off the device.
Revel riders had the ability to cross between Manhattan and the Bronx before the suspension.
NYPD did not share information about the thefts or respond to requests for comment, and a Freedom of Information Law request for police reports or complaints regarding theft of Revel devices in the Bronx was denied.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes