Beryl has begun to gradually roll out e-scooters in Norwich – adding another sustainable journey option to its multimodal smart fleet.
As part of the agreed 12-month trial with Norfolk County Council and the Department for Transport, Beryl will slowly introduce up to 100 e-scooters available for hire alongside its existing bicycles and e-bikes through the free to download Beryl app.
During the trial period, e-scooter riders will be required to provide a valid UK driving license to participate, and riders will be asked to provide feedback on their experiences using the vehicles to support data learnings on operating the service.
Councillor Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “I am delighted to see the first e-scooters arrive on the streets of Norwich, bringing further sustainable transport options to an even wider range of people and supporting our shared aims to reduce pollution and congestion 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, which is why we are introducing the scooters gradually, in a controlled manner.
“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.”
Beryl 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 DfT, ensuring it meets the highest safety standards. Beryl has and will continue to consult with key organisations such as Norfolk police and local disability groups as the trial progresses.
Ahead of launching the initial service, Beryl consulted with the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (now known as Vision Norfolk) on the placement of all Beryl bays. On invitation from councillor Lana Hempsal, Beryl and County Council representatives recently attended the Guide Dogs for the Blind virtual forum, and is actively reaching out to other organisations for the visually impaired to seek feedback on the impact of the service.
In line with the existing service, riders will be incentivised to park the Beryl e-scooter in the Beryl bays. In Norwich, Beryl currently see 96% of all trips ending in a Beryl bay.
Beryl CEO Philip Ellis said: “We’re thrilled to be introducing the Beryl e-scooter to Norwich and be part of the additional benefits that flexible, smart and sustainable travel solutions can bring.
“As people return to their usual day-to-day journeys, we want to encourage them to take that trip in a greener way. We believe, through providing a mix of vehicles and infrastructure, we are able to deliver a first-class service for a wide range of journeys, for Norfolk County Council and its community.
“Two-thirds of all journeys in the UK are under five miles, and an e-scooter, e-bike or bicycle can be a great way to make that trip instead of going by car.”
Beryl continues to work closely with the Pushing Ahead programme at Norfolk County Council and hopes to jointly develop community training and safety sessions in the coming months, as COVID-19 guidelines allow. The partners also hope to springboard from this to advocating for and developing a national safety standard in line with Bikeability training to support safe use across the nation.
Beryl has also worked closely with the Norfolk Constabulary to support the roll-out of the trial and will jointly monitor safe use. The Norfolk Constabulary will also be a key partner in the development of safety guidance as the trial progresses.
Inspector Graham Dalton said: “We are pleased to support this initiative which could offer an efficient and more affordable form of travel for local communities. Whilst we look forward to seeing how this trial is received by members of the public, it is important that people are aware that the use of regular e-scooters remains illegal on the highways. This includes pavements, cycle paths and other public areas.
“Although these Government trials are currently underway, the legislation still remains the same and individuals could face a fine or penalty points if used outside of this initiative.”
To begin a trip with a Beryl e-scooter, users may follow the in-app directions that will unlock the vehicle for use. At the end of their ride, users must lock the scooter via the app and will hear a chime from the scooter to register that it is locked. Beryl has updated existing parking infrastructure to allow e-scooters to be hired and parked in an orderly and secure manner. The Beryl e-scooters available to hire are visible both on street and in the app, with Beryl Bays and Norwich’s operating zone also shown in app.
The scooters will be slowly rolled out with the first few being available from four key city centre Beryl bays. The numbers will be increased gradually as data is captured and operations are polished.
The Beryl e-scooter will be available to hire through two payment choices of Pay-As-You-Ride (£1.50 unlock fee + 10p per minute) or Minute Bundles (£1.50 unlock fee and bundles priced at 5p per minute; 100 minutes for £5, 200 minutes for £10, 300 minutes for £15).
Users that park a hired e-scooter outside of a Beryl bay will be charged a £5 convenience fee, while users that lock a Beryl e-scooter outside of Norwich’s operating zone will be charged £10. This fee covers operational costs associated with returning vehicles back to a bay for another use to ride.