A year of success and expansion for Beryl
To stay ahead in a competitive industry you need to keep moving forward - expanding, innovating, listening and achieving - which is exactly what Beryl has done throughout a busy 2023.
Bigger and better
Our core aim is to break down the barriers to active travel for as many people as possible, encouraging the adoption of more sustainable transportation habits. This year, we’ve expanded our operations and now operate 19 shared transport schemes with some of the UK’s leading transport authorities. From e-scooters in Birmingham to e-bikes in Leeds and e-cargo bikes in Westminster, we’re decarbonising urban transport systems across the length and breadth of the country.
Expansion hasn’t been limited to new schemes, we’ve also increased the size and scope of many of our existing ones. We’ve added both e-bikes and e-cargo bikes to Hereford this year, making it the first UK scheme to offer e-cargo bikes as part of an integrated package. Our Cornwall scheme has expanded to some of the region’s flagship towns and cities - Truro, Newquay and St Austell. Our Brighton, Plymouth, Norwich, Dorset and BCP schemes have all grown too, whether it's extending to new towns and areas or simply enjoying an influx of extra vehicles.
We’re also looking forward to delivering our bikes and e-bikes in Worcester, after the city council awarded us the contract following a competitive tendering process last month.
Numbers paint a picture
We’ve smashed through some significant milestones for our more established schemes; surpassing one million journeys and three million kilometres ridden in Norwich, replacing two million kilometres of road transport journeys across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and clocking up more than a million kilometres ridden in Watford.
Since 1 January, we’ve generated over 1.5 million journeys over more than 4.3 million kilometres across all of our schemes. According to industry calculations, that has saved nearly 200 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is a significant contribution to improving air quality. Looking at the bigger picture, we’ve now generated nearly 4.5 million journeys over 13.7 million kilometres and saved nearly 578 tonnes of CO2 emissions since we launched our first scheme in 2019.
Practising what we preach - sustainable operation
This summer, we achieved the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, an internationally agreed and recognised standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS), used by organisations to help identify, manage, monitor and control environmental processes. We had to assess environmental issues relevant to our operations, such as waste management, resource use and efficiency. To gain accreditation, we developed our existing environmental practices into a full-scale management system.
We take our own environmental performance extremely seriously and are constantly looking to further reduce waste, save money and promote more responsible ways of working. This ethos was demonstrated in the release of our inaugural Beryl Impact Report in October, a document outlining the measures we take to ensure sustainability remains central to everything we do.
Cycling is for all
We try to ensure our services are as accessible to as many people as possible. To help redress the gender imbalance in use of our services, we launched our Beryl Women’s Tour events this year, which offered training and guided rides to women in a fun and welcoming environment. This has already proven successful, with 2023 showing a 3% increase in the number of women riders compared to 2022.
We’ve also seen a 2% increase in the number of riders with a disability compared to the previous year. Of those riders, 80% told us that Beryl has allowed them to make trips that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make - which is hugely encouraging!
We know our schemes must fit seamlessly into the towns and cities they serve, catering for riders and pedestrians alike. This is why, throughout 2023, we have continued to work with sight loss charities such as RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust, carrying out talks, guided walks, Q+A sessions and consultations and even deploying physical infrastructure where appropriate.
Innovation and self-improvement
We also work with external agencies to develop unique and trailblazing improvement programmes. Our Social Digital Twin project, which ran on the Isle of Wight in partnership with Fujitsu this year, used digital rehearsal technology to increase vehicle availability at the most convenient spots, while reducing operational costs and carbon emissions. We look forward to communicating the findings in the new year.
Using funding from the government’s Transport Research Innovation Grant (TRIG), our Technology Team has been conducting research into enhancing our smart IoT unit. The aim is to enable it to provide more sensor data to accurately highlight the majority of unreported accidents and near misses that occur on our 8-10m annual user journeys. We will then use this data alongside our various local authority partners to make data-led decisions on how to improve our schemes and make them even safer for people to use.
It's always great to be recognised by others and this year we were proud to scoop two major industry awards. Back in June, we claimed The Municipal Journal (MJ) Award for the UK’s Best Transport Decarbonisation Project alongside BCP Council. The MJ Awards are considered the highest level of recognition in the UK local authority community, so it was a significant coup for us.
Just two months prior to that, phase one of the Greater Manchester Cycle Hire scheme won the Transportation Project of the Year Award (under £5m) at the CIHT North West Awards 2023. The award recognises outstanding examples of projects that demonstrate a contribution to the mobility of the community in the north west of England.
But what do our riders think?
This month, we unveiled our fourth annual Rider Report, a major survey of more than 3,000 people across 12 of our schemes that have signed up to use Beryl. The report highlighted some really interesting trends, particularly around rider behaviour and our impact on travel habits.
Compared to last year, 10% more riders replaced private vehicle trips with Beryl journeys, which is great news for public health, congestion levels and air quality. Another interesting finding was that people are increasingly using our services to connect with public transport, with 31% of riders using Beryl to connect with other transport modes when commuting, compared to 27% in 2022.
The report also shows that bike share not only encourages new or lapsed cyclists to cycle more, it also encourages existing cyclists to do so, with 38% of those who already cycled doing it more since signing up to use Beryl.
Looking forward - a bigger, better 2024
With the cost of living showing no sign of falling, we believe that sustainable shared transport will continue to increase in popularity throughout 2024 and provide a cost-effective and convenient transport solution for people across the country.
We’ll continue to provide the best service while listening to riders, stakeholders and authorities to ensure we are delivering the safest, most user-friendly and efficient schemes possible.
We’ll also continue to champion our services as an alternative to private vehicles and use our expertise and experience to help local authorities looking to reduce traffic congestion while improving public health and regional air quality.
Have a great Christmas and fantastic New Year.