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Revel is shutting down its NYC moped service after another death

Scooter-sharing company Revel announced Tuesday that its service in New York City will be shut down "until further notice." The announcement comes days after one of its mopeds was involved in the death of CBS New York reporter Nina Kapur earlier this month, and after another fatal crash involving a Revel was reported overnight in the city. 

"New York riders — starting today, NYC service will be shut down until further notice," the company said in a tweet Tuesday morning. "We're reviewing and strengthening our rider accountability and safety measures and communicating with city officials, and we look forward to serving you again in the near future."

Kapur was a passenger on a Revel when it crashed this month in Brooklyn. Her death was believed to be the first involving a Revel scooter. 

On Tuesday, police said 32-year-old Jeremy Malave was killed around 3:15 a.m., CBS New York reported. Investigators determined he failed to navigate the roadway and struck a center median light pole.

"This is an unacceptable state of affairs," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Tuesday.

"We spoke with Revel this morning and they are shutting down until we can find a way to make shared mopeds safe," he tweeted.

The NYPD said that as of July 5, there had been 25 collisions involving Revel mopeds so far this year.

Congressman Adriano Espaillat had called on de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week to suspend Revel's operations in New York, which is one of several cities where the mopeds operate. A June report from Revel said they could also be found on the streets of Austin, Miami, D.C. and Oakland, California.

CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave has been looking into the safety of the mopeds. He reports that if you have $5, a driver's license and Revel's app, you can ride one of their mopeds, which can carry a driver and a passenger. Helmets are onboard and riders are required to wear them, but CBS News found a lot of people aren't.

Videos have recently shown a moped relay race was held down a crowded Bronx street, a rider running a red, and a Revel rolling down a sidewalk.

A safety study commissioned by Revel found 155 incidents resulted in injury or property damage in the second half of last year out of nearly 900,000 rides. The study found that about half of the 155 incidents involved riders who had only been on the scooters a few times, so some recommendations in the report include making training videos mandatory, perhaps requiring moped lessons for inexperienced new riders, and developing technology that would prevent someone from taking a ride if they're not wearing a helmet.

Revel says each moped comes with two helmets, and that as soon as a customer reports a missing helmet, that moped is taken out of service. 

"As with other vehicle rental services, Revel users are required to inspect the moped before riding it, which users agree to in our rental agreement," Revel said in a statement. "If a moped is missing a helmet, users are required to contact Revel's customer service, and to not ride the moped. In this situation, we will refund the customer for any fees that may have been charged when they initiated their ride, and we will immediately take the vehicle out of commission until our field employees arrive to resupply the vehicle."

In the case of CBS New York reporter Nina Kapur's death earlier this month, police say neither Kapur nor the moped's driver were wearing helmets, as required by law. 

In a statement, Revel extended its "deepest sympathies" to Kapur's family and loved ones. "We are aware of reports that she passed away after an accident involving a Revel electric moped," the statement said. "We are actively investigating this incident, and we are in contact with the NYPD to aid their investigations in any way we can."

It said that given the ongoing nature of the investigation it is "unable to comment any further on the specific details of this incident at this time."

Revel is facing more than a dozen lawsuits in New York for injuries or damage. Daniel Flanzig, who represents several plaintiffs, said Revel is "not getting the message out to the users that these are dangerous to them, that there's a risk that's very inherent in using them."

Revel warned New Yorkers it has suspended more than 1,000 riders in the last month for safety violations.

Revel says customers have taken more than 3 million rides since it began operating in 2018. And as people looked to avoid mass transit, Revel's ridership has been rising.

The company said in a statement that in the spring, it expanded its service in New York City into Manhattan and the Bronx to provide transportation options for healthcare and essential workers. It said it also grew its Brooklyn and Queens service areas, and in June expanded its service in Washington, D.C.

CBS MoneyWatch's Stephen Gandel reported that Revel suspended its optional safety classes for new users even as the company expanded its service amid the spreading coronavirus. Critics say that combination — not offering training classes at the same time it was expanding its market — was a recipe for disaster.

Kelly Nantel from the National Safety Council, a non-profit organization, said it is a shared responsibility to make sure the mopeds are safe.

"Companies have got to provide the necessary resources and information so that riders and customers know what their responsibility is," Nantel said.

"But we as customers also have a responsibility to obey traffic laws, to wear a helmet, to drive safely."

Revel said in a statement before announcing the suspension of its NYC service: 

Revel has strict safety policies in place, developed in adherence with all local and national regulations. Riders must have a driver's license, must follow local traffic laws, and are required to wear one of the two helmets provided with each vehicle. 

Revels are registered motor vehicles, and the speed is throttled at 30 mph. They are not allowed in bike lanes, sidewalks, on the highway, or on major bridges. 

We take reports of safety violations extremely seriously, and we work closely with city officials to address any violations. 

We actively monitor irresponsible riding through GPS technology, which automatically alerts us to violations like riders entering parks, crossing bridges, or riding the wrong direction on one-way streets. We also collect eye-witness reports from any Revel employees who are in the field and observe safety violations.

Revel offers free lessons, and users are covered by third-party liability insurance. New users watch an instructional video before riding with Revel. Additional educational content is also available through our app and website.

When Revel users sign up for our service, they agree to our Rental Agreement, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy, all of which are available in our app and on our website.

We are constantly iterating and adjusting our policies to address changing conditions, and will continue to do so. We are committed to working with local officials and communities to promote safe transportation practices across the city.

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