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Beryl Bikes boss hits back at criticism of new cycle rental scheme

PUBLISHED: 08:47 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 29 February 2020

Phil Ellis, CEO of Beryl, with one of the new Beryl bikes which will be launched in the Norwich next month. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Phil Ellis, CEO of Beryl, with one of the new Beryl bikes which will be launched in the Norwich next month. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

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The boss of a new bicycle rental scheme about to be launched in Norwich has hit back at criticism that the project will be a waste of money.

One of the new Beryl bikes. Picture: Lauren De Boise.One of the new Beryl bikes. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

The Beryl Bikes scheme, which will start next month, will offer 465 pedal cycles and, in the months ahead, 115 electrically-assisted cycles.

Cyclists will be able to pick up bikes from some 70 locations throughout the city centre and the surrounding area.

People will download an app to locate and unlock the cycles.

MORE: How coronavirus outbreak has delayed a rollout of hire bikes in Norwich

Norfolk County councillor Martin Wilby on one of the new Beryl bikes. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Norfolk County councillor Martin Wilby on one of the new Beryl bikes. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

They will cost £1 to unlock and riders will be charged 5p per minute, with minutes also available to buy in bundles.

The scheme is being brought to the city by Transport for Norwich, as part of a series of projects funded through central government's Transforming Cities Fund.

However, even before the scheme's launch, it has come in for criticism on this newspaper's letters page, with claims it is a waste of money and could go the same way as the previous Ofo scheme, which ended after less than a year.

But Phil Ellis, the chief executive of Beryl Bikes has responded to those who say the scheme is not worth it.

He said, in a letter to this newspaper: "We are honoured to be bringing our bike share scheme to Norwich in March.

"Every journey you make by bike benefits your health, especially where it's replacing a car journey, and benefits everybody else too.

"We aren't expecting this to happen without significant effort from us, so we are delivering one of the best bike share systems in the world.

"The Beryl bike system in Norwich will be one of the largest shared bike fleets in the country, and later in the year it will also have the largest publicly owned fleet of e-Bikes in the UK.

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"The scheme has been designed with the council, to offer convenient and affordable journeys by bike and e-bike across the city.

"The bikes are for everyone and will be available throughout the wider city region, including both residential and central areas. The system is built around Beryl Bays that allow for easy and secure parking of bikes and even introduce extra trees, plants and seating across the city, enriching the local environment for everyone who lives, works and visits Norwich."

Mr Ellis' letter in full:

The ecological disaster that the world is facing demands changes to how many of us live our lives.

The good news is, every day we can make some simple and enjoyable changes that have a big ripple on our health, and the health of the planet.

The Beryl bike share system can give Norwich thousands of ripples a day through sustainable and healthy bike rides.

The great news is that cycling is good for the economy, public health and social cohesion.

Cycling, along with walking, is an incredibly sociable mode of transport. Studies have shown that people on bikes visit stores more frequently and cities that prioritise cycling and walking over private cars are already reaping the benefits.

Across the country, public health experts describe cycling as the "magic pill" for the nation's obesity crisis. Transport authorities around the globe are placing strategies that promote walking and cycling to replace short car journeys at the centre of their decision making.

In fact, cycling infrastructure such as bike share is increasingly thought of as one of the best value transport investments. The government's own figures show that segregated cycle lanes produce a return of £5.50 for every £1 spent. Further from home in Vancouver, researchers calculated that for every $1 a motorist spends on driving, it costs wider society $9.20.

At Beryl, we are honoured to be bringing our bike share scheme to Norwich in March. Every journey you make by bike benefits your health,especially where it's replacing a car journey, and benefits everybody else too.

We aren't expecting this to happen without significant effort from us, so we are delivering one of the best bike share systems in the world. The Beryl bike system in Norwich will be one of the largest shared bike fleets in the country, and later in the year it will also have the largest publicly owned fleet of e-Bikes in the UK.

The scheme has been designed with the Council, to offer convenient and affordable journeys by bike and e-bike across the city. The bikes are for everyone and will be available throughout the wider city region, including both residential and central areas.

The system is built around Beryl Bays that allow for easy and secure parking of bikes and even introduce extra trees, plants and seating across the city, enriching the local environment for everyone who lives, works and visits Norwich.

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