British micro mobility provider, Beryl, has been approved by the UK’s Department for Transport and Norfolk County Council to operate an e-scooter trial in the region of Norwich. Beryl will be one of the world’s first providers of a city-wide multimodal smart fleet, including pedal bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.
This news comes during the race between e-scooter startups to win as many trial contracts across the UK as possible. As we recently reported, the UK government had previously ruled that riding e-scooters in public areas (such as roads, cycle lanes and pavements) was illegal due to safety concerns. This summer, though, with the continued presence of COVID-19 driving the need for more ‘socially distanced’ methods of urban transport, a series of e-scooter trails were approved for acceleration across the UK’s regions. Each regional authority is now permitted to draw up contracts with the companies that they see fit, for 12 month long trials. This month Irish startup Zipp Mobility was approved in some regions, as well as Swedish startup Voi, and German startup TIER mobility is also in the race.
During the 12-month trial period, e-scooter riders will be required to provide a valid UK Driving License to participate and will be asked to provide feedback on their experiences using the vehicles. The purpose of the trial is to collect valuable data to ensure wider roll out of e-scooter services are as safe for and beneficial to the wider public as possible.
The Beryl e-Scooter has already passed vehicle approval from the DfT, ensuring it meets the highest safety standards, every scooter is fitted with a safety bell and consultations have and will continue to take place with key organisations such as Norfolk police and local disability groups. Beryl e-Scooters can be used on roads and cycle lanes, although not on pavements or shared spaces.
Beryl was brought to the city of Norwich earlier in 2020 through the Transport for Norwich partnership, having beat major international and VC backed operators to be announced as the city’s e-Scooter provider (with an initial 100 scooters). Importantly, the Beryl e-scooters will be accessible through the same platform as their pedal and e-bikes.
Beryl has championed the ‘hybrid’ model that incentivises riders to park in geo-fenced bays, providing the city with a high level of control over vehicles, incentivising responsible parking and ensuring a service that does not impede on the city’s social infrastructure. Currently, 94% of Beryl Bike trips in the British operators city-wide scheme in Norwich end in a ‘Beryl Bay’, and the remaining 6% of bikes that are free floating are easily redistributed to bays by Beryl’s on street team via cargo bike.
The UK’s inaugural multi-vehicle scheme will give Beryl a unique opportunity to learn how choice of vehicle types can assist members of the public across a wider range of journey types and physical abilities. This data will help inform the Local Authority Partner as to how they can best implement wider sustainable transport plans by incorporating the right vehicle mix. This data-led strategy will allow Beryl to offer a full service micromobility partnership with authorities, advising them on how to implement and run systems that sit alongside long term public transport and environmental strategies.
Beryl will update existing parking infrastructure to allow the classic Beryl Bikes, Beryl e-Bikes and the new Beryl e-Scooters to be hired and parked in an orderly and secure manner, in line with the community’s needs. In a number of Beryl cities Beryl’s Bays include planters and seating; whilst there is the ability to add in additional modules like information boards and charging stations. They also carry forward the design language of the existing streetscape, by matching wood varieties and metal colourways.
Philip Ellis, CEO and co founder of Beryl said, “We’re confident this first truly multi-modal trial will provide a great example of the future for micro mobility services everywhere. Partnership between a Local Authority and exclusive operator to deliver an inclusive system. Providing the city with bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters operating citywide and including the right mix of pleasant physical parking locations and parklets across the city. We believe this mix of vehicles and infrastructure will deliver the best service possible for our local authority partner as well as the community, supporting the need for a green recovery.”
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said, “e-scooters could offer cleaner, more efficient and more affordable travel within our towns and cities and the trials in Norfolk will allow us to assess their impact on public space alongside pedal bikes and e-bikes.
Councillor Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure said: “Norwich is the ideal place to conduct an e-scooter trial and I am delighted that we have been successful in bringing them to the city. We already have a good working relationship with Beryl and the e-Scooters will make a fantastic addition to our current offer, bringing sustainable transport options to an even wider range of people and support our shared aims to reduce pollution across the city.”
“It’s important to note that while this is a government-backed trial, it is still illegal to use privately owned e-scooters on the highway. Safety will be of paramount importance. We’ve already put a number of measures in place and will be working closely with the police and key local stakeholders to ensure their use is appropriate and does not impact negatively on the wider community.”