Peeling out

Moped electric scooter company permanently stalls out blaming Austin's 'car culture'

Moped e-scooter company stalls out blaming Austin's 'car culture'

Revel Scooter Austin
Revel is scooting out of town. Revel/Facebook

Austin has one less electric vehicle fleet on its streets. On December 18, Revel, provider of moped-style, rentable scooters, is leaving Austin after just 13 months. 

In a statement posted to social media, Revel's CEO said the company found Austin's "deep-rooted car culture" nearly impenetrable. 

"When Revel came to Austin, we knew their would be challenges," said CEO and cofounder Frank Reig on December 4. "In addition to having a less dense urban core than our other markets, the city's deep-rooted car culture has proven difficult to penetrate, especially during COVID."

The New York-based startup first rode into town in November 2019. Using an app-based model similar to that of Lime or Bird, Revel rents bright blue scooters that can hold up to two passengers and reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour, making them an attractive option for those looking to make quick trips between neighborhoods or across town using city streets. At their peak, the mopeds were fairly ubiquitous in some neighborhoods, especially downtown and East Austin. 

In an email to Tech Crunch, a company spokesperson elaborated on Reig's statement, saying: “One thing we’ve learned is that Austin, unlike markets that have more robust public transportation infrastructure, is a city that is still very car-dependent, and we have found our electric mopeds do not thrive in a 'car culture' environment.”

Indeed, the city's traffic has once again made headlines recently, and the stretch of I-35 through downtown Austin was crowned the most congested roadway in Texas. There may be a reprieve with the recent passing of Proposition A, a comprehensive public transit package that was approved by voters in November, though it will be years before Austin will be able to shed its "deep-rooted car culture."

Revel's Austin stall out comes amid a tumultuous summer for the company. In July, Revel suspended operations in its hometown of New York after three riders were killed in just 10 days, according to NBC New York. Though renting a scooter requires a driver's license, it does not require a motorcycle license or any special training. And though it provides helmets, Revel drivers are not required to wear them in cities with lax helmet laws like Austin.

Though they'll no longer be available in the Capital City, Revel scooters will still be available to rent in New York; Washington, D.C.; Miami; and the San Francisco Bay Area.