Launch of new electric moped service in Austin raises concerns for some about parking

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Drivers may notice Austinites using another type of ride-sharing service later this week.

On Friday, people can start renting electric motorcycles from a company called Revel. A launch event for the fleet of 1,000 mopeds is planned that morning outside Austin City Hall.

Frank Reig, the Revel CEO and co-founder, stressed that these mopeds are different from all the scooters and e-bicycles that people can rent right now.

For one thing, Revel also requires riders to be over 21 years old and to scan their driver’s license as part of a screening process to create an account.

“We then run a background check on your license,” Reig explained. “So we’re looking for DUIs, multiple speeding tickets, any sort of reckless behavior. About one in 12 people actually get screened out right there.”

Reig suggested anyone who’d like to rent one of the mopeds to register at least a day in advance. That’s because of the screening process to create an account.

The ‘rules of the road’ listed near the controls of each moped also tell riders no sidewalks or bike lanes for either riding or parking. That’s raised concerns that these vehicles could end up taking coveted parking spots on the street.

The City of Austin’s Transportation Department told KXAN that it will monitor the roll-out of the Revel mopeds, though it’s not too worried about the effect they’ll have on parking. That’s because both the city and the company expect the size of the mopeds, which are about three feet long, will make room for everyone.

“In New York, in D.C., there are a lot of these same hesitations about taking parking from the neighborhood,” Reig said. “And I think that what people have realized very quickly, this fits into that sort of dead space in any block and really isn’t close to taking up a full car’s spot.”

The mopeds can go up to 30 miles per hour and come with two helmets in a case that unlocks when someone requests to start a ride using an app.

Lydia Medhanie, who’s lived in Austin for more than two years, said she liked the added feature of the helmets when she learned about Revel coming to Austin. The company also has mopeds in New York City and Washington, D.C.

“It seems like they’re taking steps toward more safety features, which is great,” Medhanie said. “I mean there’s been like tons of accidents and a couple of deaths, so that’s super important.”

Renting a Revel moped will cost $1 to unlock and then $0.25 per minute to use after that.

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