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CBS New York: Joe Belluck Discusses Safety Concerns with Revel Scooters

By Lisa Rozner | CBS New York

New York City’s transportation commissioner met with Revel over safety concerns Friday.

It comes two weeks into the return to the streets of the controversial mopeds. The company made changes that it said would lead to safer riding, but some are questioning that.

No helmet and running a red light in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and another zooming on the West Side Highway where Revels are not allowed — these are some of the examples of lawless riding the city’s transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, told a council hearing Wednesday she’d discuss with Revel.

“I’d say the report’s a little mixed,” Trottenberg said. “I’m getting sent pictures of people not wearing helmets.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer agrees.

“I do see still a lot of Revels without a helmet,” she said.

This summer, the service shut down following the deaths of three riders, including CBS2 reporter Nina Kapur. She, like many others involved in crashes, was not wearing a helmet.

So when service returned, Revel mandated users take a selfie with the helmet on before the vehicle could start.

But CBS2 found it was easy to take the helmet off while the ride is running and even let someone else use the moped.

“It’s not enough to take a photo and send it to them. I feel the technology is there,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee.

Technology that can track the helmet the entire ride, says Rodriguez.

CBS2 asked Revel how many people have been suspended since the restart for not wearing a helmet, but a spokesperson would only tell us the policies are being enforced.

“We have been in regular communication with city officials and community leaders, including the DOT, and are committed to working together to create safer streets,” a Revel spokesperson told CBS2 in a statement. “Since restarting service in New York City on 8/27, we have been consistently enforcing our adjusted and strengthened suspension policies to further encourage responsible riding and user behavior.”

“You almost want to yell out to someone on the street, ‘Please, put on your helmet, this is what happened to me,’” said West Village resident and City Council candidate Phelan Fitzpatrick.

He has permanent scarring and other injuries from what he and his attorney, Joe Belluck, said was an accident caused by a brake malfunction on his Revel.

“They should not be allowed to operate in New York City without having some licensing or training,” Belluck said.

Right now, you only need to pass a brief online safety quiz and provide a driver’s license to rent a Revel.

Rodriguez also has legislation that would require riders get a special license to operate the 30 mph mopeds, considered a type of motorcycle by the state.

A DOT spokesperson says the agency doesn’t have data on accidents.

He added, “DOT continues to closely monitor Revel’s operations and the implementation of the company’s new safety measures.”

Details from Friday’s private meeting with Revel were not shared.

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