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Here’s everything you need to know about Beryl’s new e-bikes

PUBLISHED: 06:38 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:44 30 July 2020

Reporter Sabrina Johnson trials one of the new electric Beryl bikes in the city. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Reporter Sabrina Johnson trials one of the new electric Beryl bikes in the city. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

New e-bikes have been added to Norwich’s latest cycle sharing scheme.

One of the new electric Beryl bikes at a docking station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the new electric Beryl bikes at a docking station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Beryl bike scheme has added a 25 e-bikes to the 225 pedal bikes which were launched in the city in mid-March. Funded through the government’s Transforming Cities programme, the new Beryl e-bikes have been launched for journeys and commutes that could be taken by two wheels, but are often made by private or public motor vehicles.

How does it work?

You’ll need a smart phone to download the Beryl app but once you’ve got it on your device and set up an account, it’s all fairly straightforward to use.

A map showing where Beryl bike bays are in Norwich and the area around the city where they can be taken. Picture: Beryl BikesA map showing where Beryl bike bays are in Norwich and the area around the city where they can be taken. Picture: Beryl Bikes

Upon opening the app, users are prompted to enable location services in order for the app’s in-built map to show you where bikes and docks are. The map also shows you where you are in relation to the nearest bike dock with e-bikes marked with a handy lightening bolt logo.

If you click on a bike, the map automatically shows you how long it will take you to walk to it. The app interface itself is clear and easy to use, with a menu containing a link to an FAQ section and billing and payment details.

Cost

Reporter Sabrina Johnson trials one of the new electric Beryl bikes in the city. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYReporter Sabrina Johnson trials one of the new electric Beryl bikes in the city. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Prices start from £1 to unlock a regular pedal cycle and 5p a minute to ride or £1.50 to unlock an e-bike and 10p a minute thereafter. There are options to ‘pay as you ride’ purchase minute bundles or a day pass for £12.

At first glance the prices seem expensive, with it being easy for the cost to add up, especially if using an e-bike. A 47-minute cycle around the city centre while trying out the new e-bike came to £6.20. As someone who cycles in part because of the low overheads, this would be a big consideration if I were to hire a Beryl bike again.

Ease of use

One of the new electric Beryl bikes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the new electric Beryl bikes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

To unlock a bike you simply tap your smart phone against it or enter the bike’s individual code.

There are three gears to control the speed, which are controlled by twisting the right handlebar, on the left handlebar there is a bell to alert pedestrians and others to your presence, there are also racks for bags on the front and back of the bike.

As a regular cyclist used to using a pedal bike, riding an e-bike for the first time took a little bit of getting used too.

Pedalling along it constantly feels like someone is pushing you, which is a strange sensation when you’re used to the speed at which you travel depending on how much effort you put in yourself. The extra help does make hills a lot easier, and although this is not so much of an issue in Norwich, it considerably lessens the risk of breaking into a sweat and would be great for anyone who is new to cycling or worried about their fitness levels.

How safe does it feel?

Taking the bike for a spin around Norwich, I felt safe, and the bikes themselves are easy to handle once you’re pedalling - although they’re are a little heavy to move in and out of the bays.

The bikes come with built in lights so there’s no need to worry about not being visible in low lighting.

What does Beryl say?

Phil Ellis, CEO of Beryl, said the introduction e-bikes to Norwich of would help broaden to broaden the appeal of cycling in the city.

He said: “It’s really exciting e-bikes were always something we were going to do in Norfolk and we think it’s a really important part of the bike share scheme, it broadens it out across to a whole group of users and that’s really what bike share schemes are about.

“Getting more users cycling on the streets and increasing bike travel is a big goal of implementing a bike share scheme and e-bikes are a good way of supercharging that.”

Mr Ellis said since Beryl launched in Norwich in March, more than 25,000 bikes journeys had been made in Norwich using Beryl bikes and 13,000 people had registered with the app. He said the company planned to increase the number of bikes and bays in the city and hoped this in turn would increase use of the scheme.

The last bike share scheme in Norwich, Ofo bikes, pulled out of the city in July 2018 but not before many of the bikes were vandalised and ended up in the river Wensum. Mr Ellis said better technology, and regular maintenance would prevent this from happening to Berly bikes.

“We have seen very little in the way of vandalism in Norwich. The striking difference is the technology on the bikes is far superior and we have a team of people constantly making use of the technology and keeping the bikes in safe and working order.”

The final verdict

The new e-bikes are easy to use, convenient and great for anyone who wants to make short trips or get into cycling. Once you get used to the sensation of feeling as though you’re being pushed hills are a breeze.


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