New West Midlands e-scooter hire scheme is launched
Shared sustainable transport experts Beryl have launched a brand-new e-scooter hire scheme on the streets of Birmingham.
The first phase of the scheme will see 200 e-scooters made available to hire in the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods with a further 700 to be rolled out in a phased manner by the end of September 2023.
Beryl was appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Birmingham City Council as the new operator for the e-scooter rental trial in the city.
The new scheme will include a number of features designed to make it as safe as possible for users and pedestrians. This includes driving licence scanning technology with selfie verification on sign up and further checks when moving account to a new device. There will also be both random and targeted selfie verification checks to deter misuse.
The e-scooters are available to hire alongside hundreds of West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes in central Birmingham under the Beryl app, providing a truly integrated sustainable transport scheme for the region.
(l-r) Sam Jones, microbility director Serco, Phil Ellis, Beryl CEO and co-founder, Claire Sharpe, head of marketing and communications at Beryl and Andrew Thrupp, head of operational assets at TfWM, test out the new scooters in Selly Oak, Birmingham
In a major change from the earlier scheme in Birmingham, these e-scooters will need to be collected from and returned to a designated dock or parking bay – often located alongside the cycle hire docking stations. This will reduce roadside clutter and keep streets tidy.
Beryl CEO and co-founder, Phil Ellis, said: “We’re really excited to be working with another of the UK’s major city regions and I’m confident that our experience and innovation can help our e-scooters become a crucial cog in the region’s integrated urban transport network.
“As well as being fun, easy to use and cost-effective, our e-scooters provide a sustainable alternative to the car that helps reduce traffic congestion, cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality.
“They’re particularly useful for first and last mile journeys and a great way to connect with other urban transport systems or to commute to and from the office.
“We hope their arrival on the streets of Birmingham will encourage as many people as possible to switch to more sustainable transport.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Over the last three years, e-scooters became a fixture of Birmingham’s transport network – often proving to be a popular alternative to cars for shorter journeys and helping to reduce road traffic congestion.
“After what was always designed to be an initial e-scooter trial, we took the opportunity of a break in contract to try a different approach with a new operator. I would like to thank regular e-scooter users for their patience during the transition to that new operator – the UK based firm Beryl.
“Central to Beryl’s approach is a docked or parked system which will help reduce clutter on the roadside – ensuring tidier streets and a better experience for pedestrians. Another key element – crucial given previous incidents and lessons to be learnt – is putting in place more safety checks and enhanced verification of users in order to deter underage riders and other instances of misuse.
“E-scooters must be operated responsibly and - in partnership with Beryl - we will continuously monitor these new measures to ensure local people can be reassured about what we’re offering.”
Cllr Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport with Birmingham City Council, added: “E-scooters provide another sustainable form of transport and I'm pleased to see the extra safety measures with this trial.
“Being able to use them alongside cycle hire, with many of the parking bays located alongside cycle docking stations, means people can hop from one to other and venture even further afield on sustainable, active transport."
The e-scooters cost £1 to unlock and 20p per minute to use. They can be hired via the Beryl app, available for download on the App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android users. Available e-scooters, Beryl bays and operating zones are all visible in the app.
Riders must be aged over 18 and provide a valid UK Driving Licence to use the West Midlands e-scooter scheme. The e-scooters can be used on roads, cycle lanes, carriageways and other areas where cycling is permitted but not on pavements. Every Beryl e-scooter has vehicle approval from the Department for Transport (DfT), ensuring it meets the highest safety standards.
People are also reminded that only e-scooters hired from the approved trial scheme can be ridden on the highway and public places.
Beryl currently operates three other DfT-sanctioned e-scooter hire schemes in partnership with Norfolk County Council, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and the Isle of Wight Council.
They also run, bike, e-bike and e-cargo bike hire schemes in Watford, Hereford, Hackney, Westminster, Greater Manchester, Cornwall, Plymouth, Brighton and Solent and provide the technology for London’s Santander Bikes.
Beryl schemes are delivered both in partnership with cities and in consultation with communities and key stakeholders. Doing so ensures they can meticulously deliver the most beneficial and best possible service for users.
Currently one of only two B-Corp certified operators, Beryl places people, social responsibility and environmental sustainability at the same level as financial sustainability.
They also design and manufacture their own products and technology in the UK, giving them autonomy over their creation, reducing the need for mass transportation and contributing to UK industry through jobs, supply chains and apprenticeships.
“Central to Beryl’s approach is a docked or parked system which will help reduce clutter on the roadside – ensuring tidier streets and a better experience for pedestrians. Another key element – crucial given previous incidents and lessons to be learnt – is putting in place more safety checks and enhanced verification of users in order to deter underage riders and other instances of misuse."