Blue in green: Lime launches cheaper electric moped share competing with Revel

Smooth: Brooklyn Paper reporter Kevin Duggan test-rides Lime’s new moped sharing service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Photo by Gersh Kuntzman

They’re Reveling in the Lime-light!

California-based company Lime rolled out an electric moped sharing service in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Friday, offering a green-colored and slightly cheaper alternative to Brooklyn’s own blue two-wheelers by Revel.

“We are so excited to bring this vision of a multi-modal transportation alternative to New York City,” said Lime chief executive officer Wayne Ting on April 30.

The service debuted in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will be available in parts of Brooklyn, Queens and lower Manhattan with a starting fleet of 100 battery-powered two-wheelers, which Lime hopes to expand to 500 over the coming weeks.

The Golden State’s foray into Kings County uses the same Vespa-style electric mopeds manufactured by Chinese firm NIU, but the newcomer’s microbmobility rides are only 39 cents per minute to ride after a $1 unlocking fee, 10 cents cheaper than Revel’s 49 cents a minute.

The tech boss touted the service’s safety as a key difference to Revel, which shut down in the city for a month last summer after three riders crashed and died on the blue mopeds.

The west coast firm partnered with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation partners, an organization that designs rider education and training, to craft its mandatory quiz and how-to videos each user must take in the Lime app before their first ride.

“The most important difference, I think for us when we started this program is we wanted to make sure is: safety is the first, the second, the last thing we think about,” Ting said.

After the triple-fatalities, Revel also introduced a mandatory 21-question multiple-choice test and riders must now take selfies with their helmet on before the can roll.

Revel launched in Bushwick in 2018, before expanding to a 3,000-strong fleet in all boroughs except Staten Island. The Brooklyn-born startup recently also expanded into other ventures, including e-bike subscription rentals, an electric car charging hub at the decommissioned Pfizer factory at the Williamsburg-Bedford-Stuyvesant border, and an all-electric, all-Tesla cab fleet exclusive to Manhattan.

Revel did not immediately return a request for comment.

Lime is also among three firms the city’s Department of Transportation chose to launch a sharing service of stand-up scooters piloting in the Bronx this summer. 

Other new Lime safety features include that each helmet box is equipped with infrared sensors that can tell if you haven’t taken out the protective headwear, and artificial intelligence that can detect if you’re not wearing it.

Helmet-flouting scofflaws may even have their bikes slowed down after a warning by Lime, according to Ting. 

“If you don’t have the helmet on, we can send you a reminder or even slow that ride down,” he said.

Riders must be 21 years of age or older, and passengers must be 18 and up. After scanning your driver’s license, the app also uses facial recognition to make sure you match the permit. 

Lime’s current coverage area.

The coverage area is not beyond the parts of Brooklyn already covered by Revel, but a Lime spokesperson said the company plans to further expand into lesser-served parts of the borough, particularly areas like southeast Brooklyn where subway lines are few and far between. 

“At first, the geographic areas served will be similar to Revel’s but with Lime covering more of SE Brooklyn, and Lime plans to expand to cover more outer-borough neighborhoods in need of last-mile and first-mile transit options over time,” said Jacob Tugendrajch. 

Test ride

When this reporter took a test drive in the Navy Yard, I had to complete a roughly 10-minute, four-part multiple-choice test with instructional videos to show me how to properly and safely ride, similarly to Revel’s obligatory questionnaire.

Then, I had to scan my driver’s license and take a selfie to verify my identity, before I was able to choose a moped by scanning a QR code on the helmet box and start it up.

No problem: A seasoned Revel user, Duggan was quickly able to transition to Lime’s mopeds.Photo by Gersh Kuntzman

Lime’s helpful instructors showed me and other reporters how to ride the mopeds around a small course dotted with cones in the former shipyard turned tech hub. 

As a seasoned Reveler, I had no trouble following the entry-level exercise.

“You’ve done this before,” the Lime guide said.

The service feels much the same as Revel, and anyone who’s ridden the blue mopeds shouldn’t have trouble switching to green.

The main selling point is the cheaper price, however, you’re still far more likely to find a Revel moped due to their larger coverage area and massive fleet.

Correction (May 3, 10:30 am): A previous version of this story cited an outdated $19 sign-up fee for Revel. We regret the error.