Revel To Riders: Please Come Learn To Drive Our Scooters

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

It’s summer school for scooter speeders.

Revel, the company that’s under fire for unleashing thousands of untrained motor-scooter riders onto Brooklyn and Queens streets, is finally ramping up its safety effort with pop-up lessons on weekends in August and September in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Astoria, Bed-Stuy, Long Island City, Crown Heights, Park Slope and Red Hook.

Up to this point, the company had been offering free two-hour lessons for riders who want to learn to “Revel like a pro,” but they have to trek to Gowanus to do it. The existing classes have also been criticized for having long waiting lists. Revel announced the new schedule of lessons in an email to its registered users. The email did not address concerns about its prior effort.

Revel users aren’t required to take a class from the company before hopping on a motorized scooter. Instead, riders just have to upload their driver’s license information to show they have a clean driving record and pay a $19 fee, after which they can hop on one of the electric choppers, which can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour.

As a result, Revel riders have been compared to Four Loko fans. As Revel has expanded from just 68 motor scooters in Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint to 1,000 in neighborhoods around Brooklyn and Queens, the company has been dogged by reports of scooters going the wrong way down streets, riders not wearing required helmets and even drunk riders.

And there’s been one incident where a Revel rider allegedly broke a cyclist’s ankle in a crash, which has provoked recent coverage that suggested the scooters are dangerous.

Even in instances where a Revel isn’t operated by a drunken lout, their speed means that a rider crashing into a cyclist or pedestrian can cause serious damage. Cyclist Paul Dicesare suffered a broken ankle this summer when a Revel rider turned his motor scooter into Dicesare at the intersection of York Street and Gold Street. Dicesare needed to get surgery, according to his attorney Daniel Flanzig, who blasted the company for letting people ride the scooters with no training.

“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,” Flanzig said about Dicesare’s suit. “It goes 30 miles an hour, faster than a bike. Forget about injuring yourself, you’re putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk.”

The training will come too late for one cyclist in Brooklyn though, who reported that they were clipped by a Revel rider going the wrong way in the bike lane this week.

For a schedule of classes, click here.

  • Ray Finkle

    i really enjoy seeing these motorcycles speeding in the non mototrized bicycle lanes. i feel respected

  • MotoBX

    Attending a training session should be mandatory for anyone without a Class M or DM license. I know there isn’t a legal requirement, but that would be due diligence IMO.

    Beyond that, I’m happy to see something that makes two-wheeled motorized transportation seen more accessible to residents.

  • Hilda

    What exactly is a “Clean driving record”? The 18 year old that hit Jose Alzorriz may simply have a couple of traffic violations. Does that constitute a clean driving record?

  • MatthewEH

    I feel like Revel needs to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for riding in bike infrastructure, especially protected/separated bike infrastructure. I doubt it’s prevalent, but I’m hearing enough anecdotes about scooter drivers just Not Getting this that it’s worrisome.

    Highlight it repeatedly in their help materials and make it clear that if anyone snaps a photo of you in the lane on Kent Avenue, on the Marine Parkway Bridge ped lane (!?!?!), or what have you, you’re done. Membership instantly revoked.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I can’t blame Revel for assuming that someone licensed by New York or some other state to operate a 3,500-pound vehicle capable of exceeding 100 mph should be able to operate a vehicle weighing, what, 120 pounds? and capped at 30 mph.

    If anything, people should be required to have a clean cycling record on a regular bicycle before being allowed to use an E-bike or scooter, and succeed with those vehicles before moving up to the SUV.

  • gmoney

    Half the Revel riders I’ve seen are not wearing helmets. Isn’t that a NY law on a scooter?

  • MotoBX

    Simple, different skill sets are required. I know some here disagree, but in my mind there’s a distinct jump in skill necessary to operate a throttle-powered vehicle vs. a bicycle. It isn’t huge for relatively low-powered devices like Revels, but there’s still a jump.

    I would guess the majority of riders haven’t even thought about simple things like how to properly swerve around a pothole (if you say lean your body or turn the handlebars, you’re wrong). Shit, even daily commuting on a motorcycle, I wouldn’t want to pull an evasive maneuver in the first 3 minutes of feeling one out.

  • MotoBX

    Yes, the law goes beyond helmets. You must have a visor down or wear approved, shatter-resistant glasses. Ask me how many friends have been ticketed for “improper eye protection” at a red light, for lifting their visor to wipe the sweat out of their eyes.

  • Joe R.

    Can you elaborate on “if you say lean your body or turn the handlebars, you’re wrong”?

    BTW, on a bike, there are two kinds of evasive maneuvers. One is the type you do when you see something far enough in advance to decide your course of action. It’s typically turn the handlebars slightly, go around the obstacle, and turn them to get back into your former path. That might or might not be accompanied by leaning, depending upon your speed, plus how long you wait until you make the maneuver. When I see something in advance, I prefer very gradual maneuvers, like a few seconds to move out, and a few more to move back. That means no leaning. I’m actually moving the bike more like it was something the size of bus or semi, but it lets other road traffic see what I’m doing so I don’t surprise them.

    The other kind is when something comes up on you quickly all you can do is react. It happens when poor lighting leads me to not see a pothole until I’m on top of it, or a wrong-way rider without lights comes upon me with a relative closing speed of something like 40 mph. In that case I just jerk the handlebars in what seems like the most sensible direction and hope I’m right. So far I have been. Sometimes when doing that the rear wheel momentarily slides. It’s a violent maneuver any way you look at it.

  • kevd

    it’s pretty fucking prevalent. “Marine Parkway Bridge ped lane… Prospect Park” – I’ve seen, and photographed both.

    My solution? Make all NYC bridge 25mph and allow electric scooters on them!
    Guess it doesn’t fix the park loop issue, though.

  • Be sure to call the company at 855-690-9180 every single time you see a Revel scooter being operated illegally.

    Even if you cannot get the plate number (always in the form of ##BF##), the location alone will be enough for the company to identify the rider.

  • MotoBX

    The proper evasion is actually pushing down on the handlebar on the side you’re choosing to swerve due to counter-steer effects. If you push down on the right bar, the wheel turns slightly to the left, which leans the bike to the right, allowing for a quicker ‘yaw’ rotation than trying to turn the handlebars or simply leaning your body weight.

  • Joe R.

    I have to try this on my bike and see if the same thing happens. Very interesting.

  • MotoBX

    The threshold is about 10 mph. Any slower on a motorcycle and it’s all about turning the handlebars.

    It does work on a bicycle, but the geometry and weight is such that body lean has a much stronger effect than when the vehicle weighs at least 12x more (even more for a motorcycle).

    **The more you know** ?

  • Joe R.

    Thanks. After riding a bike for 41+ years I never thought I would learn anything new at this point but here we are.

  • MotoBX

    I didn’t believe it until I tried it. It’s VERY counter…intuitive (sorry, the pun was too easy)

  • Solo500

    well said.

  • david

    It’s hard becoming italy!