Revel Launches Dockless Scooter Share in North Brooklyn

A Revel scooter outside the companies offices at 12 Cypress Avenue in Bushwick (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

BUSHWICK – Sixty-eight shiny new electric scooters are hitting the streets of North Brooklyn in the next few days as Revel launches its pilot program for a ride-sharing business aiming for the space between CitiBike and subway riders.

After downloading an app, passing a driving background check and paying a one-time registration fee of $25, eligible riders will be able to track down any of the scooters on the streets of Greenpoint, Williamsburg or Bushwick and take it for a ride—for a fee.

Rides will cost $4 for the first 20 minutes, and $0.25 per minute after that ($15/hour). Tracked by GPS, they can be driven in Queens or Brooklyn for the time being, but crossing a bridge into Manhattan will incur a fine. If a rider wants to stop and run into a store or eat dinner, they can reserve their scooter for $0.05 per minute ($3/hour).

No matter where they’re taken to, the scooters must be returned to the home area of Greenpoint, Williamsburg or Bushwick before they can be dropped off, and riders must park them legally: in a legal space, perpendicular to the curb.

While many communities are wary of dockless bike shares for their potential to be left on sidewalks and in doorways, cluttering up the streets, Revel intends to avoid that issue with stricter parking requirements.

After all, these are Class B electric motor vehicles, registered with the DMV, featuring license plates. They top out at 29 mph and can be driven on city streets, but not highways or expressways.

To qualify for the service, potential riders must be 21 years or older and have no DUIs on their record in the last 10 years, or speeding tickets from the last couple years. After signing up, riders can either watch an instructional video about how to use the scooters or visit the office near the Jefferson L stop for a free training. But other than that, they’re ready to hit the streets.

Pitching the bikes as a middle ground between CitiBike, which hasn’t found its way into Bushwick yet, and the subway, co-founder Frank Reig said riding a Revel scooter should cost about $1 more than a similar MTA trip—and be faster.

The Revel co-founders demonstrating their new product on a Bushwick side street (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

The scooters have a range of 50 miles per charge and will display how far they can go in the app. The company plans to cruise the streets in an SUV during the pilot program, switching out drained batteries in parked scooters to keep customers cruising.

While the program went live today in the three North Brooklyn neighborhoods, co-founder Paul Suhey said that the company hadn’t presented to either Community Board 1 or 4, which represent those neighborhoods. He cited the summer recess through September as a reason, but also said the program had been in the works since January.

With 68 new vehicles hitting the streets, and the founders hoping to grow that number significantly, it seems they haven’t engaged with local residents much at all. Suhey said they were relying on local Councilmember Antonio Reynoso to help with that.

Local Councilmember Antonio Reynoso endorsed the Revel launch in Bushwick today (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

Reynoso spoke at the launch as well, telling those gathered that Revel is adding a missing piece of the transit puzzle when it’s extremely necessary—a reference to the coming L Train shutdown.

“I want to make sure we give enough freedom to these companies to think outside the box,” said Reynoso, who added it was time to “break down car culture” in Brooklyn.

Both the Revel founders and Councilmember Reynoso cited the air pollution issues in Bushwick and North Brooklyn as a good reason for an electric scooter share, but didn’t address the root cause: heavy truck traffic in the neighborhoods, which may provide an extra level of danger for fleets of inexperienced scooter riders zipping around the streets.

At today’s event, Reig and Suhey were hesitant to define the length of the pilot program or the number of riders needed to make the company feasible, focusing instead on plans to expand, mentioning hundreds of scooters and name-checking neighborhoods like DUMBO, Crown Heights, and even Bay Ridge.

Feig connected the name of the company to the joy of scooting through the streets of Brooklyn: “Once you get on one of these things,” he said, “You don’t look back.”

Launching their company and looking already to the future, it’s clear Revel isn’t looking back either.

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Paul Stremple

Paul was a staff reporter at Bklyner, responsible for covering Northern and Eastern parts of Brooklyn between August 2017 and January 2019.

Comments

  1. Given the heavy truck traffic in many neighborhoods and an abundance of careless drivers, it’s concerning that wearing a helmet is not required by law for electric scooter riders over 14. On a citibike, the average rider goes about 8.3 mph, which helps limit the number of injuries. I can only imagine that there will be a higher injury rate for electric scooter riders, given top speeds of 29 mph. I hope that doesn’t happen.

  2. I like the idea but not the locations and reasons for it. The idea would work well in a touristic area though where theres’ no traffic jams, clean streets, safe streets, pleasurable riding thats’ all. I first got on one of these scooters (gas type 45cc) in the Florida Keys and love every minute of it and was not too expensive either. Hope Revel makes it in the business. Go Revels! Rooting for ya!

  3. The bikes are troublesome enough…who covers the insurance on these vehicles should they hit someone or another vehicle? Will that coverage also include medical coverage?
    Are the drivers required to have a valid motor vehicle license? I see they check their past records…but are current registrations required?
    Was almost convinced this may be good until I realized no helmets are required…hey our councilman doesn’t wear one when he is biking…but we sure wish he would-hate to have a special election we’re starting to like him!

  4. When I got my bike, I was required to take a road test, weaving in and out of cones at low speed without taking my feet off the pegs, etc.. Riding a motorized vehicle in traffic is not something that you should be allowed do do without some sort of training. Then there’s the insurance thing. Who is required to carry the coverage? I know with the motorized scooters, the companies have you check a disclaimer in the app that puts all responsibilities are on the rider.

  5. Hey! There’s a code to get the first 20 minutes free to try it out! It gives me time too (kinda like how it was with uber) the code is here: MNRQK

  6. Cleaning truck can not get through because scooter has been parked in the same place for 2 weeks. How are the roads supposed to be cleaned?????

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