Beryl Closes in Enfield but Opening in Hackney and Norwich

Beryl Bikes has closed the Enfield part of its London operation on 1 October, having launched just this summer, after suffering high vandalism levels. This leaves the borough with a number of paint-marked hubs but no bikeshare service to occupy them. in London, Beryl continues to operate in the City of London and is due to expand to neighbouring Hackney (along with JUMP). Beryl is not the first operator to try and crack Enfield – Urbo also briefly operated there, before pulling out of the UK altogether.

Separately, Beryl has announced they will be launching in Norwich next spring as sole operator. Ofo previously operated in Norwich, before pulling out and then closing altogether in the UK. This will be Beryl’s fourth urban system, after London, Hereford and Bournemouth/Poole.

Current Summary of UK Bikeshare Systems

All systems below can be seen at Bike Share Map – click on a circle to see the details of that system.

ManualBothPedelec
Dock/
hub-based**
London (Sant.)*
London (Beryl)*
Stirling
Edinburgh*
Belfast
Liverpool
Nottingham
Cardiff
Swansea
Hereford
Bournemouth
Slough
M. Keynes (Sant.)
Brunel (Uni.)
Surrey (Uni.)
Warwick (Uni.)
Glasgow
Lincoln
Exeter
Forth Valley
BothLondon
(Freebike)
Brighton
DocklessLondon (Mobike)
Bristol
London (Lime)
London (JUMP)
M. Keynes (Lime)

* Pedelecs announced but not yet launched.

** Including systems where bikes can be left out of a docking station/hub or the adjacent area, but a punitive fee (at least £5) is charged for such an activity.

Not including systems where the minimum hire time is a day or more or not point-to-point, like Brompton Hire, or very small systems (<20 bikes) like Pony or Donkey Republic, private systems, e.g. corporate or student-only schemes like Kingston Uni, or systems which are not at least third-gen (i.e. automatic kiosks) like Southport.

Forthcoming systems that have been announced include Norwich (a manual dock-based system from Beryl).

Nextbike Glasgow Adds Electric Bikes To Fleet

The latest UK system to go part-electric is Glasgow’s system which is run by Nextbike. The operator has published a map showing which docking stations “pedelec” electric bikes will be able to be hired from and returned to. Manual bikes will also be able to use these docking stations as well as the non-electrified ones.

Glasgow normally has around 400 bikes available although at the time of writing this has dropped to just over half this number – it looks like the manual fleet is being partially replaced by the pedelecs rather than it being a system expansion or alternatively the docking stations themselves are temporarily out of use while being converted.

The Glasgow system dock-based. While journeys can finish out-of-dock, a £5-£20 fine is charged depending on membership type, with membership cancellation for repeated out-of-dock ends.

Nextbike GlasgowPedal
Daily
Electric
Daily
Pedal
Annual
Membership Fee£0£0£60/year
Start Fee£0£0£0
Usage Fee£1/30min,
£10 max/24h
£2/20min
£30 max/24h
50p/30min
£5 max/24h
Usage CreditN/A N/A30 min/
journey
Out-of-Hub End Fee£10£20£5
Out-of-Hub Start CreditN/AN/AN/A

Monthly memberships are also available (£10/month). Maximum journey 24 hours.

JUMP and Beryl to Expand into Hackney

JUMP by Uber and Beryl Bikes have been awarded a licence to operate in the London Borough of Hackney. While Hackney is just one of 32 London boroughs, it has a well established cycling tradition, with more than 20% of residents already cycling to work in some parts, so its inclusion within the footprint of JUMP and Beryl’s London operations is significant for both firms. JUMP operates in neighbouring Islington, while Beryl operates in the City of London, also adjacent to Hackney. This means that many more inter-borough journeys become possible by bikeshare.

The council news release mentions that the operators are funding dedicated parking areas for dockless bicycles in the borough. Beryl already operate this way, with users only allowed to finish journeys at paint-marked or taped docking points, and an out-of-station fine charged to users who finish outside of these zones. JUMP however is a pure dockless system, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to restricted parking areas – or whether Hackney will designate large parts of the borough as being a journey-end-allowed zone.

Unfortunately the news release makes the usual council implication that the borough is surrounded by an impenetrable wall and that no users would ever want to leave it (or arrive in it) by bike. It mentions that “over 500” bikes will be introduced. A council tweet mentions “500 bikes”. Having a set number (or lower/upper limit) on bikeshare bikes in a borough is nonsensical – they will inevitably get cycled out to the City or Islington (depending on permissions there). Will the operators then be obliged to come in by truck and remove or add bikes to keep the numbers in the borough at a set level?

Santander Cycles already operate in the southern part of Hackney. In practice, Lime and Mobike also operate there, although without a permit (leaving bikeshare bikes in boroughs is not currently against the law, as long as they are not obstructing pavements etc). Freebike also operate in the adjacent boroughs of City of London and Islington.

Both Beryl and JUMP by Uber are paying a permit fee to Hackney Council (it is not clear whether this is additional to, or provides for, the dockless cycle parking hubs mentioned). With the model of dockless bikeshare unproven in terms of profitability, in western cities at least, this is likely to make operating the systems even more challenging. However, if bikeshare can succeed in any one London borough, it is probably Hackney.

A Closer at Edinburgh’s Hub Types

As a followup to the recent story that Edinburgh is consolidating its docking stations and hubs, closing some and replacing the remaining virtual ones with physical anchors, I took a look at the various types that are currently deployed in the city by Serco, the operator.

  1. Virtual hub [see above]. Nothing on the ground – the hub appears in the app and on the data feed, but only the bikes (if any) indicate the presence of the docking station. In this particular case, the app/data showed no bikes available, but there was one bike there – presumably it was marked as disabled or there was a GPS issue, although at a glance it appeared to not have anything wrong with it. Certainly, not having anything on the ground does make it feel that it is just an abandoned bike.
  2. Marked hub (mat) [see below]. Edinburgh is not using painted/signposted hubs which we are starting to see in some London boroughs. Instead, they have a plastic mat on the ground advertising the system and providing a physical “box” to park the bike in – complete with indications of where the front and back wheels should go. Sadly, the mats are not doing well in the Edinburgh climate – in this example, the nearby mat has been partially folded over on one side. The further mat has left the ground entirely and is wrapped around the tree in the background. The mats are also not nearly big enough for the numbers of bikes currently parked there. Being beside a construction site is undoubtably not helping either!
  3. Marked hub (chain). Although I didn’t see this on my most recent trip, Edinburgh also used, at least at the start of the system, hubs which were marked out by two of the bikes (not rideable) at either end of the hub, with a chain passed through their front wheels. Users were instructed to park between the “marker” bikes. This is also a temporary hub as it is very easy for someone to move the bikes or chain. However it does act as something on the ground – and above ground level – increasing visibility of the hub.
  4. Dumb dock mats [bottom]. This is Edinburgh’s version of docking stations. They are once again not fixed to the ground so are presumably temporary, although more permanent than the solutions above due to their size/weight. I am not 100% clear on whether the bike is locked to the dock when it is parked in it, but the size and postioning of the dock gives a good indication of how users should position their bikes at the end of a ride, as well as acting as a clear indication of why the bikes are there and potentially making the bikes less susceptible to vandalism due to not appearing to be “abandoned”. Users are allowed to park adjacent to the docking station if it is full, I believe.

There are various other docking mechanisms that Edinburgh hasn’t used yet – secured dumb docks, smart docking stations (with power and possibly data), painted and/or signposted hubs, and fences/cable locks. They key with most of these alternatives is they require physically attaching something to the ground, and a key aspect of how Edinburgh operates is with the flexibility of being able to move the hubs – regardless of type – based on demand and vandalism. The last one (fences/cable locks) makes use of existing ground-secured infrastructure but would require a slight redesign of the particular bike that Edinburgh uses.

Edinburgh To Replace Marked Hubs with Physical Docking Stations

Edinburgh’s Just Eat Cycles will replace all its marked hubs (currently marked by two bikes with a chain between them, painted rectangles on the ground, or virtually in the app with no mark on the ground) with physical ones, in an effort to combat increasing vandalism and theft of bikes. The organisation announced that it is replacing its marked hubs. Doing so will increase expense and reduce operational flexibility but may reduce the vandalism rates by presenting the bikes to passers-by as more obviously locked to a stand rather than “abandoned”.

Edinburgh’s physical docking stations do not have power or networking, so should be less expensive than London’s “built” stations (the bikes are very similar in Edinburgh to London and run by the same organisation). Instead, the docking stations will be semi-portable so will retain an element of flexibility, and likely avoid the expensive and time consuming planning application process, again a major expense for London’s system.

Serco Demonstrates Pashley Pedelecs in London and Edinburgh

Santander Cycles pedelecs in London. Photo by @maidstoneonbike.

Serco, who run the London “Santander Cycles” and Edinburgh “Just Eat Cycles” urban bikeshare systems, showed off the electric bike varient of their Pashley-built bikes, at a Car Free Day event at Tower Bridge in London and in Edinburgh, yesterday.

The Santander Cycles twitter account revealed some details of the new pedelecs: like the regular bikes, they are assembled by Pashley in Stratford upon Avon, they have a 250W motor which provides 70N/m of torque. In London, there is already electric competition, with Jump, Lime and Freebike all providing powered alternatives, while in Edinburgh, for now, Serco’s system remains the only bikeshare option.

In London, Serco or Transport for London haven’t yet announced their plans for how or when they would offer electric bikes as part of the existing fleet. However in Edinburgh, Serco have already announced that the electric bikes will be coming.

As both the London and Edinburgh bikes shown appear identical, and Edinburgh’s docking stations don’t have power (indeed some are just marked rather than with physical anchor points), it is suspected that both systems will use operator-managed swappable batteries rather than dock-based battery charging.

London’s systems is run by Serco as an operational contract for Transport for London, while Edinburgh’s system is run under a more general specification agreement with Transport for Edinburgh where Serco have more freedom – and incentive – to innovate, such as moving docking station locations (e.g. to manage poor usage or vandalism) and changing redistribution strategies.

Just Eat Cycles pedelecs on show in Edinburgh. Photos by @2wheels2dex.

Beryl in Hereford and Bournemouth – Data

Beryl has published a couple of snapshots of how they are doing in Hereford and Bournemouth.

They’ve just finished a free bike week in Hereford, where they made their service free to use. They’ve reported 9500km travelled during the week. Assuming an average journey of 1.5km, this equates to 6000 rides in 7 days, or 900 a day. Across the fleet of 125, that suggests over 7 uses per bike per day (t/b/d) – great! They also reported just over 10000 journeys in their first month (this included the free bike week). This suggests an average t/b/d of just under 3 – great numbers.

They’ve also published this graphic showing where in Bournemouth (& adjoining Poole on the left) their bikes are being used – almost everywhere it seems!

Beryl in Bournemouth.

Bikeshare Promotions for Car Free Day

A marked dockless parking bay in the City of London, occupied by Freebikes (on the left) and Beryl Bikes (on the right).

Sunday is World Car Free Day and London is taking part, with much of the City of London closed to cars. It might also be called London Free Bike Day – several of London’s bikeshare providers are taking part by offering free rides on their bikes:

  • Santander Cycles is offering free journeys (of up to 30 minutes per journey) throughout Sunday. Use the app to access the bikes and enter code CarFreeDay2019.
  • Freebike is offering £10 in credit, for use between 11am and 5pm on Sunday. This will give you up to 100 minutes of usage in pedalec mode, or nearly 4 hours in manual mode. Enter code CarFreebikeDay in the app. (Freebike is actually free every other day too – but for 20 minute journeys in manual mode).
  • JUMP is offering £3 in credit on Sunday. This includes the £1 undocking fee, so will get you 20 minutes of free riding in a single journey (£1 for first 5 mins, 12p/min afterwards) or multiple shorter journeys. Use code LONDONCARFREEDAY19 in the app.
  • Lime is offering a free 10 minute ride to be taken at any time throughout Saturday and Sunday, if you are not already signed up with them. Just use code CARFREEDAY19L in the app.
  • Beryl Bikes will reward the 3 people who use their service the most on Sunday with 400 minutes of free ride credit for subsequent rides.

Like all London bikeshare systems, you may incur additional charges if you leave your bike outside of its allowed finishing area (e.g. docking stations or marked hubs).

Car Free Day in the City of London.

How Many Bikeshare Bikes and eScootershares are in London?

My current estimates are:

SystemDocking StationsBikes
Santander Cycles (Central)7817754
Mobiken/a~1800
Lime-E [pedalecs]n/a~1500
JUMP [pedalecs]n/a>500
Freebike [pedalecs]263*353
Beryl109*169
Santander Cycles (Uxbridge)633
Bird [eScooters]n/a>50

Totals: 9750 manual bikeshare bikes, 2350 pedalec bikeshare bikes, 50 escootersshare scooters.

The numbers above don’t include private systems not open to the public, such as KU Bikes (university students) or IHS Markit Freebike (employees).

* Some docking stations are shared across providers – specifically, Freebike and Beryl share docking stations on the City of London, but not in the other areas they currently operate.