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.