Revel Sued by Cyclist Who Was Hit By One of its Many Untrained Scooter Drivers

It's happiest you'll ever be while having to learn.
It's happiest you'll ever be while having to learn.

The scooter company Revel is facing what is believed to be its first personal injury lawsuit — and win or lose, the case is likely to raise enormous questions about the expanding company and have vast ramifications on an industry that’s trying to fill the city’s transportation gaps.

The suit against the Brooklyn-based company certainly won’t be the last — attorney Daniel Flanzig argues Revel has been ill-equipped at preparing its users for the city’s busy and poorly designed roads and how to safely share them with other users, especially bikers.

“The problem I foresee right away is that it’s a learning curve with this type of vehicle, it’s much different from a bike, much different from a car,” said Flanzig, who runs a personal injury firm and is a cyclist himself.

Revel popped up last summer with just 68 electric-powered scooters in Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. But this May, Revel rapidly expanded through Brooklyn and into Queens and now has 1,000 motorcycle-like vehicles on the street. They are not subject to any stricter rules or regulations than other motor vehicle in the city, but in order to ride one, users simply need to pay a one-time $19 fee, and must have a valid and clean driver’s license. Revel handles the insurance.

Revel offers lessons, but they are not required before hopping on one of the two-wheelers, which top out at 30 miles-per-hour, and there is currently a waiting list. In lieu of the in-person lesson, users can watch a tutorial video and pass the license background check, which simply checks that the user is at least 21 and has a clean driving record.

“All you have to do is upload your driver’s license to have access to a motor vehicle with no training or any type of background check to see if you can,” said Flanzig.

Flanzig filed his July 1 lawsuit on behalf of Paul Dicesare, who suffered a broken ankle that required surgery after he was hit by the driver of a Revel scooter from behind at a Dumbo intersection on June 12.

Dicesare was in the left lane, trying to make a left from York Street onto Gold Street, when the Revel rider, Matthew Horn of New Jersey, allegedly rammed into him as Horn also tried to turn left at the same intersection, according to Flanzig.

“He basically made a turn into my client,” Flanzig said. “My client was on the left hand side of the moped when the moped made a left turn into him.”

The police report differs from the suit’s claims, but Flanzig says cops never took a statement from Dicesare. Police claim that Horn was making a left turn from York Street onto Gold Street when Dicesare passed Horn on his right and also attempted to make a left turn when the two collided — the impact sent Horn and Dicesare flying to the ground. Dicesare ended up in the hospital with a severely broken ankle that required surgery, according to Flanzig.

The intersection of York and Gold streets where a Revel rider allegedly rammed into a biker.
The intersection of York and Gold streets where a Revel rider allegedly rammed into a biker.

A video provided by Dicesare and Flanzig shows Horn, on his Revel scooter, coming up behind the biker on York Street, but it does not show the moment of impact.

Revel provides up to $50,000 in liability insurance to users if they are involved in a crash. But that insurance is only available if users comply with all of Revel’s rules and regulations, and only if they don’t have their own motor vehicle insurance, which would be used as the primary insurance instead.

In the case of any incident, rider compliance is verified by the insurance company and law enforcement, according to a Revel spokesman. In order to collect money from Revel, victims must prove whose fault the collision was — likely through a civil suit such as Dicesare’s.

Flanzig’s suit argues that Horn had no training prior to riding the Revel and was driving recklessly when he hit and injured Dicesare.

But Horn is not the only one on trial here — the entire system of renting a high-powered vehicle that few have ever used is also now in question.

“The negligence of the defendants consisted of owning and operating the moped in a dangerous manner; failing to keep a proper lookout ahead; failing to obey and heed the road and traffic conditions,” according to the suit.

The suit also puts the blame on Revel for “failure to assure its users, including defendant Horn, had sufficient knowledge and skill to operate the moped; failed to ascertain previous experience in operating the moped.”

“Part of our claim is that they are putting people out there without proper training — it’s backlogged on courses, you can’t even get in,” said Flanzig. “It goes 30 miles an hour, faster than a bike. Forget about injuring yourself, you’re putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk.”

The results of Revel’s expansion have become somewhat of a wild west — riders are trying to navigate the city’s chaotic streets while pedestrians and cyclists are simultaneously trying to figure out their space on the road in juxtaposition to the electric scooters. The NYPD could not provide data on Revel-related injuries, or if it even tracks such injuries.

And it’s already clear that not everyone who does rent one of Revel’s scooters follows the rules — photos taken over the last several weeks show what looks like young kids, not wearing helmets, drive the scooters the wrong way down a street.

Bike advocates say that any form of electric-powered transit to replace the automobile is welcome, but Revel must do a better job of training users and making sure they are held to the same standards as car drivers — operators of super-powered, heavy, motorized vehicles. A lack of training, coupled with the mode of transportation’s free-wheeling spirit, is a bad combination.

“These type of Revel members make me mad. Revel, please ban these dangerous members. Some of us want you to succeed,” Noel Hidalgo said in a July 8 tweet.

Other users admitted to having a few drinks before riding.

“On my way home last night I saw a rider take a spil (sic). Helped her get back up, she smelled of alcohol, and confessed she had some drinks. She thought we would be ok riding it. … We parked the scooter, and made sure she signed out and did not ride any further,” said Shmuli Evers in a July 2 tweet.

A spokesman for Revel said the company takes safety very seriously and is hiring additional staff to offer more lessons.

“Safety is our top priority. We have in place strict safety protocols that are well above legal requirements. If we learn that a rider is not following proper procedure, we immediately suspend their service,” said rep Phil Newland. “The e-mopeds are regulated by the same laws as other motorized vehicles on the road. Similar to when renting and driving a car, if you violate the law, the police can and should cite you.”

Revel declined to comment directly on this lawsuit.

“This was an unfortunate incident that is currently going through the insurance claims process,” said Newland.

  • MotoBX

    In NYS you would need an M class license to operate anything that can go faster.

  • MotoBX

    Or it’s a gateway to having more drivers give up their cars to switch to motorcycles and scooters.

  • There is an established culture around the motorcycle, which has been used as a tool of intimidation since long before either of us was born, so much so that it has even become an archetype in film.

    Does this mean that every single biker is a thug? Certainly not. A friend of mine uses his motorcycle mainly to travel to Upstate vacation spots; and there are many others just like him. But to pretend that the culture of intimidation does not exist, especially when just about every New Yorker has witnessed several instances of packs of bikers ignoring red lights and terrorising street users, is patently absurd.

    By contrast, Revel scooters, and electric scooters/mopeds in general, are a brand new thing. No cultural norms, either good or bad, are associated with this nacent technology.

    If someone riding one of these things breaks the law — by blowing a light, or by riding in a bike lane, or by turning without signalling, or in any other way — then that person should be punished. And the punishments for such acts should be far greater than they are, so as to serve as incentives not to engage in these bad behaviours.

    But the idea of these quiet and slow Revel mopeds being used in the intimidating manner that is the norm amongst riders of thundering powerful motorcycles is more than a tad risible.

  • Joe R.

    We could start making more sensible designs which are much more aerodynamic to get around the efficiency issue. Also, 80 mph speed limits which are strictly obeyed is no faster than what we have now on lots of highways. I’m thinking more like 100 to 125 mph, except where curvature doesn’t allow it. AVs will eventually mean most people don’t own a vehicle. That in turn will hopefully mean the death of inefficient, boxy designs like SUVs. As we go all electric shape will matter more and more in order to get the most range from the battery.

  • Frank Kotter

    Please explain the obsession to make motorcycles as loud as possible.

    Your man is right, it’s part of the ingrained culture which would be wise for you to admit in order to give honest credibility to some of your other very valid points.

  • MotoBX

    But the idea of these quiet and slow Revel mopeds being used in the intimidating manner that is the norm amongst riders of thundering powerful motorcycles is more than a tad risible.

    That’s a straw man argument. I never implied any of that. I merely pointed out your continued hypocrisy when it comes to modes you prefer vs. those you are prejudiced against.

    Look, we can agree that there are assholes in every facet of life. Asshole drivers, asshole cyclists, asshole motorcyclists, asshole pedestrians, and asshole Revel scooter riders. You don’t like when people say cyclists as a whole ignore laws, or Revel riders as a whole ride recklessly. You’re doing the SAME generalization to motorcyclists and I will call you out on it every time.

    We can disagree on the idea that motorcycles are a part of the solution to increasing mobility while reducing congestion in the city, but to say every motorcyclist is that asshole on an unregistered dirt bike is, to quote you, “patently absurd”.

    Ultimately, I like the program. I think its a benefit to everyone to move people out of cars and onto smaller, human-scale vehicles. This is a case of irresponsible assholes doing irresponsible things. We should just be glad they’re on a scooter instead of an SUV.

  • qrt145

    If people cared about fuel efficiency, SUVs wouldn’t outsell cars in the US:

  • MotoBX

    So, there is a saying “Loud pipes save lives”. It comes from being invisible to oblivious drivers on the road. Some believe this, others don’t. Most riders I encounter are no louder than a truck. There are also plenty of cars with modified exhausts which are loud.

    I ride with standard exhaust, and with my smaller bike, am fairly quiet compared to most.

  • MotoBX

    We’d also sell a lot more motorcycles and scooters with stats upwards of 70 MPG.

  • but to say every motorcyclist is that asshole on an unregistered dirt bike is, to quote you, “patently absurd”.

    Now who’s creating a straw man?

    Not only did I not say that every motorcyclist is an asshole, I explicitly said the opposite:

    Does this mean that every single biker is a thug? Certainly not.

    You don’t like when people say cyclists as a whole ignore laws…

    Don’t look now, but I have said that myself! And I have also said that, if cyclists don’t stop ignoring laws, we’re going to imperil the expansion of — or perhaps even the very existence of — our bike lanes.

    …or Revel riders as a whole ride recklessly.

    I don’t like this for two reasons. First, it does not square with my experience. While I certainly have seen riders of Revel scooters doing illegal things (and I reported those people to the company, in the hopes of getting their memberships revoked), most of the Revel riders I see ride responsibly. I was on one of those vehicles last night. When I picked it up in Downtown Brooklyn, I saw at least a half-dozen other Revel scooters/mopeds; and every one of them was being handled properly. But (and here’s the second reason that I object to any assertion that Revel users as a whole ride recklessly) Revels have not existed for long enough for there to be any established norms on what Revel riders tend to do.

    You’re doing the SAME generalization to motorcyclists

    Yes; and here this observation has the virtue of accurately describing reality. Truth is a defence to libel.

    and I will call you out on it every time.

    Call all you like. In fact what is happening is that, because you like to ride a motorcycle, you are in denial of the antisocial cultural practices that dominate and define the world of bikers.

    And here again I ask you to note that I do not suffer under any such delusion when it comes to bicyclists and their frequent disregard for the law. I fully acknowledge my fellow bicyclists’ tendency to blow red lights; indeed, I repeatedly cite this tendency as a grave danger, on account of the exacerbating effect of constant and very public lawbreaking on the already considerable hostility towards bicyclists on the part of the general public, which, in turn, discourages legislators from supporting bike-related measures. (The latest confirmation of this came this week from Council Member Holden.)

    I am perfectly willing to presume that you ride your motorcycle in an appropriate manner. I mentioned a friend of mine who also rides legally and who never intentionally frightens anyone. But this does not change the fact that the vast majority of bikers do not do as you do, but, instead, regularly employ a lawless and intimindating style; and, further, they consider the use of that style to be a central part of their identities. The entire biker sector has thus earned the scrutiny of the police. Still, we see that this scrutiny is not vigorous enough, because it has so far not worked to wipe out the bad behaviour in question.

    Ultimately, I like the program. I think its a benefit to everyone to move people out of cars and onto smaller, human-scale vehicles. This is a case of irresponsible assholes doing irresponsible things. We should just be glad they’re on a scooter instead of an SUV.

    With this comment I agree completly.

  • MotoBX

    Not only did I not say that every motorcyclist is an asshole, I explicitly said the opposite

    Except you effectively call the vast majority of us assholes a few sentences later:

    this does not change the fact that the vast majority of bikers do not do as you do, but, instead, regularly employ a lawless and intimindating style; and, further, they consider the use of that style to be a central part of their identities.

    I have certainly seen more articles about irresponsible Revel scooter operators than about us “intimidating” motorcyclists recently. Partly because they’re new, partly because they’re deployed in generally more affluent areas who care more about QoL offenses. Again, I’m not buying that it’s a majority of Revel operators. Some people will be assholes no matter what mode they utilize.

    I’m not in any denial about what “culture” you’re referring to. It exists. However, I encourage you to revisit your claim about “the vast majority”. The vast majority of riders I see (usually 3-5 each way on my commute during warm weather) ride respectfully and are mostly invisible (understandably why you overestimate the number of dirt bikes and other assorted ne’er do wells). Maybe once per week I’ll see a rider who I consider reckless. Even then, they aren’t intimidating anyone, just flying through traffic. The vast majority of us aren’t looking to get into a confrontation with anyone. I recently learned a new favorite phrase that highlights how the actual majority of us ride: “Four of a kind beats a pair every time.”

  • Isaac B

    I’d believe that if they were not targeting neighborhoods and demographics where most people don’t yet own cars.

  • MotoBX

    There are car owners in every neighborhood.

    Why move your car and hunt for parking when you can take a Revel and park it with ease? Then slowly you realize you can do 80% of trips you’d normally do in a car, on a motorcycle/scooter.

    I’m not saying your idea or my idea is a guarantee. Ultimately, this is just a company looking to fill a market that no one else had filled.

  • Isaac B

    Seasoned bicycle advocates have heard this song before: People with a product suggesting (to the advocate community) that they’re an alternative to cars. But in reality, they’re substituting for walking, cycling and transit. Here are the 3 testimonials taken from Revel’s web page:

    If you have somewhere to be, this is seriously the way to go. I’m all in on Revel.

    I’m done with the subway. The congestion, the delays. Over it. Revel just puts me in a better mood.

    Revel makes it easy to get around and explore new neighborhoods. Plus, it’s just fun to ride.

    Only one of these suggests Revel as a substitute for something. And it’s transit, not cars.

  • Joe R.

    Also if we cared about efficiency SUVs would at least have sloped front ends and rounded backs. We really need to start mandating maximum drag coefficients. Nothing might stop the automakers from still making huge vehicles, but at least they’ll be somewhat more efficient if the Cd can be no more than, say, 0.2. We also need to mandate low rolling resistance tires.

  • MotoBX

    Whetever point you were trying to make about Revel being more of a gateway to cars than away from cars is lost on me at this point. I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make.

    I’ll just end with this:

    Because the things people use cars for that are not readily substitutable by walking, cycling or transit also don’t lend themselves to doing by Revel. Such as:
    – Carrying things that you can’t hand-tote.
    – Traveling in foul weather.
    – Going outside the city, where transit options are limited.

    1) I can carry a week’s worth of groceries in a large backpack on my motorcycle (can also be done on a Revel).

    2) Rain gear (or just getting wet) is a thing. You have more traction than you think in the rain, especially if you ride smoothly.

    3) Can’t be done on a Revel, can be done on a motorcycle or larger scooter.

  • Isaac B

    1) I can carry a week’s worth of groceries in a large backpack on my motorcycle (can also be done on a Revel).

    You can. I can. Most won’t do this. And there are things besides “a week’s worth of groceries”.

    2) Rain gear (or just getting wet) is a thing. You have more traction than you think in the rain, especially if you ride smoothly.

    Sure, it can be done. Most won’t make this investment. I said “readily” for a reason.

    3) Can’t be done on a Revel, can be done on a motorcycle or larger scooter.

    “Can’t be done on a Revel.” The words speak for themselves.

  • Please note that you can indeed leave town on a Revel. A fully-charged scooter/moped gives you 50 miles’ worth of travel, which enables you to go pretty far into Nassau.

    I have used a Revel in order to visit my mother in Westbury, a round-trip of 40 miles. I will have to go out to Merrick next week, which also amounts to a 40-mile round-trip. I haven’t yet decided yet how I will go there; taking a Revel is definitely one of the possibilities.

    But I would not ride one in the rain, just as I do not ride my bicycle in the rain.

    Anyway, because I as a New Yorker have never owned a car, Revel cannot possibly take the place of a car for me. What’s more, because I live outside Revel’s home zone by three miles, every one of my uses of the service requires a use of the subway or bus.

    But someone who lives within the home zone and who has a car will inevitably find that almost all tasks can be done by means of those wonderful little Revel scooters that are parked all over the neighbourhood. (Oh, how I envy that! I wish I could just walk out my front door and find a Revel!)

    To own a car for the couple of times a year you actually need one will quickly come to seem absurd, when you can easily rent a car for those occasions.

    Finally, the supermarket question is neither here nor there. Every New York City neighbourhood — certainly every neighbourhood in the Revel home zone — has great supermarkets; so you should be doing your grocery shopping on foot.

    And don’t even try skewing the matter by talking about “a week’s worth of groceries”! If you are so irresponsible that you hit the store only once a week, that’s on you. You cannot use your own irresponsibly as an argument for a car, as you have gone out of your way to artificially create a so-called “need” where no such need actually exists. Instead, just stop into the supermarket every couple of days on your walk home from the subway or bus, like a normal person.

    The important point is that Revel is a very useful service for life’s everyday needs. If I am getting use out of this service despite my having to travel to find one of the vehicles, the people who can find one on their own local streets will surely see how useful and convenient the service is. Revel is bound to change some people’s calculus on the question of whether it is worth it to own and maintain a car in this City.

  • MatthewEH

    Sounds to me like Revel should audit their travel data and yank the membership of someone clearly traveling in an offlimits area.

    This is probably somewhere on their backlog.

  • I believe that they have done that.

    But I would agree that they should do more of it

  • I hope that you called the company to report these people, so that their memberships can be revoked.

  • erk magosh

    isn’t the speed limit 25 mph in NYC? Why are these things allowed to speed?

  • erk magosh

    We don’t have to wait for automation. Europe is requiring all new cars to have speed limiters by 2022.

  • Wow! Beautiful! We need that for sure.

  • erk magosh

    Right now AVs are being programed by drivers, so I wouldn’t trust them to spot pedestrians/not speed. Cars should be programed to see crowded sidewalks and slow down. So far they only react to things directly in their path. Anyway slower speed limits account for their being life besides cars on streets. I could see raising speed limits on restricted highways, but if anything AVs should be going slower than person drivers on surface streets.

  • qrt145

    The limit isn’t 25 mph everywhere in the city.

  • Joe R.

    They should adjust speed according to when they detect potential hazards. If they detect cyclists or pedestrians up ahead, they should assume the worst case scenario and adjust speed so they won’t hit anything regardless of how unpredictably anyone behaves. When they don’t detect anything up ahead, they can go faster. In fact, that’s why I see no real need for numerical speed limits any more. Speed can be determined by the density of potential hazards. In the absence of hazards, speed is determined mainly by the road geometry and ability to detect traffic at the next intersection. In practice this may often mean AVs are going slower than human drivers, but not always.

    What we really need is better sensor technology to more reliably detect pedestrians and cyclists. That seems to be the primary issue now. We need to detect life signs, not scan for objects and then figure out what shapes are pedestrians or cyclists.

  • Frank Kotter
  • MotoBX

    People are killed by cars and trucks more than every other day, but let’s focus on one asshole with a modded exhaust. You do realize there are more cars than bikes out there who can do the same thing.

  • Frank Kotter

    Again, I agree with you on a lot but to disregard another’s very accurate perception of the bellwethers of agressive motorcycle culture makes you look insincere.

    I was on my bike out in the country this past weekend for a quite a few hours. Motorcycles are exponentially louder than trucks. Many of them are without a catalytic converter. Once again, your position is stronger if you accept obvious facts instead of trying to deflect.

  • MotoBX

    “Very accurate perception” based on what, some guys on Harley’s? Where’s all the aggression you speak of? You make it seem like riders are straight out of Mad Max. Did they state at you menacingly while passing?

    I haven’t deflected, I’ve come flat out and said, SOME riders are assholes. However, some people here continue to spread this BS pretending every rider is part of a motorcycle gang with flimsy anecdotes, ignoring the thousands of responsible riders who live day to say, mostly invisible. You only notice what you’re looking for.

  • Frank Kotter

    Whoa. I made comment about your disregard for the comment by someone else that motorcycles are louder than they need to be and this is a part of the culture of motorcyclists. This is absolutely true and undisputed.

    Then I made a comment of personal experiece that the loudest things on the road, without exception during my hours of interactions over the weekend, are motorcycles. Again: indisputable.

    I never, ever, even once had a comment about the riding style of motorcyclists in any way shape or form. This comes directly from you. Not me.

  • david

    I recently encountered a revel scooter riding in the Kent bike lane. I also saw many others riding near the navy yard and seemingly enjoying themselves. It’s an interesting idea but dread it coming to manhattan. I think even citibike should be required to push bike rules to its users. I encounter all sorts of stupid behavior in bike lanes. If the city installs bike lanes the need to budget for policing of said lanes.

  • The report of someone riding a Revel scooter in the bike lane makes me angry. I hope that you took note of the plate number and reported that rogue user to the company by calling 855-690-9180. Revel will probably just warn the rider the first time; but, if they get multiple complaints, I’m pretty sure they will revoke that person’s membership. But we have to call in the complaints.

    And I doubt that Revel has any desire to operate in Manhattan. Due to the fact that their vehicles cannot cross any of the East River bridges, operating in Manhattan would mean maintaining two seperate fleets.

  • ProfSlowlane

    I recently saw a Revel rider, quite a novice, try a right hand turn and fully wipe. There was no apparent injury and thank goodness no car right behind the Revel-er. Many of these people have no training or skills. They are accidents in waiting.

  • rohmen

    Unfortunately, time will tell on Revel if the law should be changed if these are going to be as mainstream as we see in Europe and Asia, but it’s entirely legal to operate a moped that does under 30 in most states (NY included, apparently) with a regular license.

    As it stands now, you could force Revel to train people, but Revel has a somewhat decent point as to whether they should have to train someone to rent something that a person could legally own with no training on their own. We don’t make people take training before they rent a car through a car sharing app., or a small box truck through U-Haul.

  • rohmen

    I don’t disagree with you, but it’s also a reason the general law should be changed to require some instruction and a special license class, period. If it’s dangerous for someone with a regular license to rent one of these and start driving around, it’s dangerous for people to buy one privately and do the same thing. Unfortunately, most scooter/moped owners I know did exactly that and had no training.

  • Vooch

    Most European Jurisdictions have a easy license requirement for Mopeds (and under 30MPH vehicles) Typically 14 years old and minimal training.

    Might be a good idea to adopt these standards.

    You convinced me 🙂

  • Mart

    The steering and throttle on these Revel “mopeds” are both pretty touchy. The steering certainly doesn’t feel like any other scooter I’ve been on. The visor on my helmet was so scratched up it was difficult to see the right side of the road. Just a matter of time until someone gets killed and the company is sued into the ground or regulated out of existence.

  • I crashed one of these and severely sprained my ankle within 5 minutes of taking my first ride. Honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t read more stories like this.

  • Spike Spiegel aka Roger Smith

    Well, instead of expanding into Bay Ridge or other parts of Brooklyn, they are going to start running these in D.C.

  • Sean Gordon

    I’m seeing so many revel motorbikes riding in bike lanes. As a long, long time cyclist I cannot tolerate other modes using our facilities. Cycling is GREEN its SAFE and its FAST but i just can’t put up with pushcarts, scooters, runners, mopeds, and vespas totally disrupting the flow. Momentarily entering is one thing but if you get on the west side highway or kent ave 2-way paths with anything but a bicycle you need to get lost. If you want the convenience of an engine go ride in traffic. Runners can get a pass if they are switched on and being safe and courteous – they are green too. Anything with a motor, no.

  • As a big fan of and frequent user of Revel, I agree with you. People who operate those vehicles in a bike lane should be reported to the company (call 855-690-9180); and the company should cancel their memberships immediately.

    But I do not go along with your exemption for runners in a bike lane. Runners are pedestrians; and on every street there is space set aside for the exclusive use of pedestrians, namely, the sidewalk.

    Parts of the Hudson River Greenway are shared-use. But in the bicycle-only sections, the presence of pedestrians — whether running or walking — is an enormous problem.