DOT Wants to Set Rules for Moped-Share Companies Like Revel and Lime 

Photo: Revel
Photo: Revel

The city is creating new rules to rein in electric moped companies, such as banning riders from all East River bridges, and forcing such moped-share companies to obtain a permit, the Department of Transportation revealed last week — days after a Revel rider was killed by a drunk driver in Manhattan, and after Revel was forced to pull the plug on allowing its riders to cross two city-owned bridges.

The new permitting process dates back to June, when the City Council passed a law mandating a permit system that would compel the companies to adhere to a slate of safety regulations after a series of fatalities last summer.

“The growth in popularity of shared moped services has also created a number of safety concerns for New Yorkers,” the DOT said in its notice of an upcoming Oct. 28 hearing on the new rules. “Therefore, in June 2021, Local Law 67 of 2021 was enacted prohibiting the operation of a moped share system without DOT approval, and requiring providers to adhere to rules promulgated by DOT regarding operations, safety, and data sharing.” (Point of information: By the end of June, car drivers had already killed more than 100 people, and injured more than 3,000 pedestrians, yet the council did not similarly create a permit system to address the “safety concerns” of cars.)

Currently, Revel and Lime can operate within the five boroughs, but only through an agreement with the city; neither has a formal permit and the mopeds themselves are regulated by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. (State law already forbids them in bike lanes.) The lack of uniform rules has led to confusion and chaos — DOT had to intervene after Revel unilaterally announced in July that riders with 25 miles of experience could use the Manhattan and Queensboro bridges. DOT forced Revel to rescind that.

Under the proposed new rules, all moped-share users would be barred from the four city-controlled spans (the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro, and Williamsburg bridges); on limited access highways; and in bike lanes. The companies will also be required to track all crashes involving its mopeds. And companies that break the rules would be subject to steep fines, as high as $25,000 for operating in the city without a DOT-approved permit, or even permit revocation.

The Council first moved last summer to rein in Revel, and other mopeds that top out at 30 miles per hour, following three fatalities in as many weeks. The Brooklyn-based start-up was forced to suspend service for a month, during which time it came up with its own slate of new safety regulations, including requiring users to complete a 15- to 20-minute test on the rules of the road, requiring them to snap a selfie wearing a helmet, and instituting an expansion of automatic suspensions, including for riding the wrong way down one-way streets; riding on highways, bridges, and sidewalks; in bike lanes; or into off-limits green space like a park.

And on Sept. 19, 22-year-old Andreas Marino became at least the fourth Revel rider killed since the company launched in 2018 — he was run over by an allegedly drunk driver on First Avenue near 48th Street.

Both Revel and Lime say they are looking forward to working with the DOT on the permitting process.

The hearing will be on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Join via Zoom.