In Bushwick, electric, pedal-less scooters join curbside rental brigade

In Bushwick, electric, pedal-less scooters join curbside rental brigade
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

Revel in this!

Electric-powered scooters started cruising Brooklyn streets on Monday when the founders of a Bushwick-based transit company launched a pilot program to give locals a new way to putt-putt around.

“It is fun, you’re smiling, you’re happy, and it’s easy to use and it’s affordable,” said Frank Reig, the co-founder of Revel Transit, outside its Cypress Avenue office. “We’re trying to give New Yorkers just another option that makes sense.”

The environmentally friendly two-wheelers — which the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles classifies as “limited use motorcycle” lumped in with other low-speed cycles like mopeds — can offer straphangers fed up with the beleaguered subway system a new mode of transportation, said Reig’s business partner Paul Suhey.

“Connecting residents to different forms of public transit, whether you need to get on the J, M, Z, the 7, or the ferry, we think you can take an electric moped to get there,” he said.

Riders can sign up for one of the scooters — which all come equipped with two Department of Transportation-approved helmets for different sized heads — through the Revel Transit app on a smartphone.

Similarly to the recently launched pedal-assist-electric and dockless bike-share programs throughout the five boroughs, the locations of the all-electric scooters will pop up on a map so users can easily find one in the three neighborhoods of the pilot program — Williamsburg, Bushwick, or Greenpoint — hop on and take off for $4 for 20 minutes, and then 25 cents for each minute after that. Riders will also get charged 5-cents for every minute paused, like if they run into a deli to grab lunch, according to Revel.

But before hitting the road, riders must first provide they have a valid and clean driver’s license — users enter their license number and upload a picture of it on the app, which will scan the license for any speeding or drunk driving tickets. And riders must also first either certify that they have experience on an electric scooter — Revel will take your word for it — or if not, take a complimentary lesson at the Cypress Avenue hub, according to the founders.

To start, the pilot program’s 68 two-wheelers, which don’t top 29 miles-per-hour, are only allowed in Brooklyn and Queens — if the wheels cross over into Manhattan or another distant borough, riders will have to pay a fine, said Reig.

But Reig and Suhey still believe the new bikes can help some Brooklynites during the looming 15-month L Train closure even if they can’t travel across the East River — commuters can ride them to other subway or bus lines that go into the distant isle, said Suhey.

“We do not view ourselves as solving the L Train shutdown — that being said we want to be part of the solution and we believe we can be part of the solution,” he said.

And the new scooters operate more similarly to a car-share service like ZipCar, rather than the controversial electric-bikes that Mayor DeBlasio has notoriously cracked down on since they require a valid license, and only users 21 years and older can ride them, said Suhey.

“It is very different from an e-bike that does not have any sort of insurance, is not registered with any sort of entity, no sort of regulatory body behind it,” he said. “These are 100 percent motor vehicles, each one has a license plate registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

Reig and Suhey said they will run the pilot program until the end of the year, when they will collect data about how users are responding throughout the scooters’ four months on the road.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Vroom vroom: The founders of Revel Transit are bringing electric scooters to three Brooklyn neighborhoods as part of a new pilot program that launched Monday.
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba