R.I.P. Revel mopeds — I knew ye extremely well.
The company announced earlier this month that it would end operations of its blue scooters on Nov. 18 and focus on its fleet of electric vehicles.
I signed up in July 2020 in order to take a date on an hourlong joyride through the empty caverns of Midtown.
There was barely another soul on the roads, until we pulled up to a light at the Park Avenue Viaduct (real ones know) and found another restless couple who’d had the same idea.
I beeped a friendly greeting, and the driver turned.
“This guy knows what’s up,” he laughed.
He and I tried to race around Grand Central, but all the bikes top out at the same speed – 30 miles per hour.
I didn’t ride again until the following June, when a problem presented itself. I had 20 minutes to get someone from the Chelsea Piers to the Grand Street Co-ops, on the furthest edge of the Lower East Side.
The subway wasn’t an option — the closest stop was three avenues away, and it was the wrong line anyway. She wasn’t comfortable piloting a Citi Bike. And at rush hour, cabs were too few, too slow and prohibitively expensive.
That’s when I remembered the little blue mopeds.
The app identified one an avenue away. From there, we slashed a diagonal across the island in 21 minutes flat. The West Side Highway was too scary, but we made it on time. The ride was $10.29 plus tax, with a $2 fee for the extra rider I was honest enough to report.
This was a revelation.
In the same way that Citi Bike had changed the map of the city 10 years ago — suddenly, Sixth Street and Avenue D wasn’t too far from the subway to rent an apartment — the Revel mopeds overlaid the grid with new pathways for those willing and able to scoot.
I realized that when I was short on time, a few of my regular trips could be completely transformed:
Going from East Flatbush to Greenpoint — a commute that normally involves a bus and two trains, or seven sweaty miles on a Citi Bike — was just $15.51 and 25 minutes on a Revel.
And going from the Lower East Side to West Harlem — which usually takes an hour on the train, or an exorbitant taxi fare — was $19.78 and just 33 minutes by moped.
When I visited San Francisco, I discovered that city had Revel, too. From the bottom of the Mission to the top of Russian Hill was just $9.62 and 16 minutes.
Later in summer 2021, I opened the app to learn I’d “unlocked” the East River bridges. These are normally off-limits to Revel users, but the company allowed some riders access after months of safe, ticket-free driving.
Revel wisely shut down the bridges for all users soon afterward, but for a few glorious weeks, riders could spend $13.67 to get from Prospect Heights to West Chelsea in 30 minutes.
But more than anything, it was fun.
I learned the full expressive range of the moped’s meager horn (the “hello I’m here” toot was an early and often-deployed discourse marker for drivers unused to your presence). I learned to use the side mirrors, but never trust them. I learned that that thing motorcyclists do where they hang their feet off the foot pegs feels really good.
I got two tickets across my 100-plus rides — one for parking head-in instead of head-out, and one for parking on the wrong side of a sign (I tried to contest this with photographic evidence and geolocation data, but as Revel had already paid the city, I had no recourse). I broke a few traffic laws, and put no one in danger. I had a blast.
With Revel ending its moped service, friends who witnessed my enthusiasm have asked, quite logically, whether I intend to buy my own little electric bike in NYC.
Absolutely not. Do I look like I want to die?