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First On CBS2: Congressman Calls On Mayor, Governor To Suspend Revel's Operations In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - What started as a solution to transportation deserts some are calling a transportation disaster.

In the past week, several people were taken to the hospital due to accidents on Revel mopeds, and a week after the death of our beloved colleague Nina Kapur, the moped sharing company announced changes.

All you need is a driver's licence to take one of the mopeds for a ride, even though they're considered a type of motorcycle, reported CBS2's Lisa Rozner.

Sunday, the company announced a few more requirements, but is it enough?

One congressman is calling on the state and city to put the brakes on the entire endeavor.

Web Extra: Read Rep. Espaillat's Letter (.pdf)

It's on Wadsworth Avenue near 190th Street in Washington Heights where Saturday police say a 20-year-old driver lost control and struck a lamppost, landing him in the hospital in critical condition with head injuries.

This past Thursday, police tried to pull over a man driving the wrong way against oncoming traffic near Creston Avenue in the Bronx. He fled on foot, discarding a loaded firearm onto the sidewalk, and was later apprehended.

As of July 5, the NYPD said so far this year there had been 25 collisions involving Revel mopeds out of a little more than 1,000 documented on motorcycles and scooters citywide. That's about 2.5%.

The ridesharing moped company says it has already suspended more than 2,000 riders in the past six weeks. But Rep. Adriano Espaillat says it's time for the state and city to take the reins, and pause the program.

Monday, he sent a letter to the commissioner of the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles, copying the state Department of Transportation, the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio saying "the company is notorious for its lackadaisical requirements, user training and compliance."

"They're turning on the wrong side of the street. Really. They're not wearing their helmets. They're running red lights. They're breaking the law and I think they should be taken off the road until they're more responsible," Espaillat said.

Sunday, Revel notified its users that in the coming weeks it will roll out an in-app safety exam that everyone will be required to take, and starting this week, riders will have to confirm they're wearing a helmet before every ride:

This summer, we've ramped up our rider accountability policies, resulting in the suspension of more than 2,000 riders in the past six weeks. In the coming weeks, we'll be rolling out new measures to encourage safe riding, including an in-app safety exam that we're developing with the help of industry experts. All users will be required to complete this exam in order to continue riding, and any user who doesn't will lose access to Revel. Starting this week, you'll also have to confirm that you're wearing a helmet before every Revel ride.

When it comes to street safety, there's no one move that will fix everything, and quick fixes rarely produce real change. That's why we'll continue putting in the time and effort needed to find and implement solutions that move the needle and have a long-term impact.

As we double down on our commitment to safety, we're asking you to do the same. Drive defensively, wear a helmet, report unsafe riding, and ask the Revel riders in your life to follow the rules too.

The vehicle won't turn on unless you reserve it through the app, but some are asking why can't the company prevent it from being operated unless someone takes the helmet out of the back compartment, Rozner reported.

"In the tech world, there has to be some app that allows that company to know when someone using a helmet or not," said City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who chair the Transportation Committee.

"One thing we've been finding it just seems it's all on Revel to regulate itself. Did they need city approval to a) launch and b) expand?" Rozner asked.

"Well, first of all we need to get New York Department of Motor Vehicles to get involved, because they are regulated by the state," Rodriguez said.

But the state Department of Motor Vehicles had this to say:

"We would appreciate if the city stopped misleading the press and public because as they well know, under the law, the city has the power to prohibit, restrict or regulate the operation of these types of mopeds on its streets," the state DMV said in a statement. "These are tragedies and we refer to the city, which regulates the operation of these types of mopeds on its streets."

CBS2 gave Revel an entire week to give us an on camera interview but the company declined. The DOT also declined.

"We are heartbroken over the death of Nina Kapur and the reports of others injured recently in these moped accidents. We refer you to the city, which regulates the operation of these types of mopeds," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Press Secretary Caitlin Girouard.

We did not hear back from the mayor's office regarding the congressman's letter.

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