BCP Council gains Department for Transport approval for e-scooter rental trial

A fleet of brand-new electric powered scooters will soon be available for hire across Bournemouth and Poole following Ministerial approval for a trial in the area. The initial trial is set to commence on January 25 2021.

The e-scooters will provide an innovative emission-free transport option for both residents and visitors to the area. They are being launched by BCP Council as part of its Transforming Travel programme to encourage people to switch to more sustainable means of transport.

BCP Council is one of a number of Local Authorities across the country to be given permission by the Department for Transport (DfT) to run a controlled trial. The initial trial will assist the DfT’s national research into e-scooters and will run until the end of November 2021.

The BCP Council scheme will be operated in partnership with existing cycle hire scheme providers, Beryl Bikes, and the e-scooters will be provided and maintained by Beryl at no cost to the council. The scheme will be launched with an initial 25 e-scooters available for instant hire via the Beryl app. The e-scooters can be conveniently picked up and dropped off at any of the 250 marked parking bays in the Poole and Bournemouth area.

Councillor Mike Greene, BCP Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport, said: “Our conurbation is one of the most congested in the country and we need to offer convenient and attractive alternatives to the car for shorter journeys in particular. We have been delighted with the uptake of our Bike Share scheme with 250,000 journeys undertaken, covering 1.1million km since launch last year. We are certain that e-scooters will also prove popular and by working with Beryl we can be assured of a safe, compliant and well-managed solution.”

Councillor Greene added: “We are also pleased that the BCP trial will assist the Department for Transport’s research into the use of e-scooters overall and help shape national policy in the future.”

Customers wishing to hire an e-scooter, must have a valid driving licence, which will first need to be verified via the Beryl app. The hire agreement will also provide the user with vehicle insurance.

The Beryl hire e-scooters can be ridden on all existing public roads in Bournemouth and Poole as well as on the expanding network of signed cycle lanes and cycle/shared-use facilities. They cannot be used on pedestrian pavements and privately-owned e-scooters are still illegal for use on public roads.

The initial operating zone of the trial is within Poole and Bournemouth only. This reflects the hillier nature of the two towns (which is ideal for e-scooters) and potential greater demand. An expansion into Christchurch can be considered at a later date as the scheme progresses.

The e-scooters are limited to a top speed of 12.5 mph and are equipped with a speedometer and bell. An on-board GPS system will ensure their locations are constantly tracked, while Beryl’s established team of mechanics will maintain, charge and redistribute them.

Philip Ellis, Beryl CEO, said: “We are really pleased to offer e-scooters as a further development of our successful Bike Share scheme. We have been running a pilot e-scooter scheme in Norwich for the last three months and have just launched on the Isle of Wight. These have both operated without incidents and usage has far exceeded expectations. The Beryl bay-based system keeps the service tidy and ensures the scheme is in line with the needs of the community."

The DfT trials are already underway in cities such as Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Bristol and Norwich. The trials have demonstrated a shift from private cars to e-scooters for local journeys, one of the main reasons for the trials. It has also just been announced that a larger Transport for London trial will soon begin across the London boroughs.

The DfT trial is a limited and controlled pilot for type approved rental e-scooters only. Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads including in trial areas. While the wearing of a helmets is advised they are not compulsory, and it is down to individual choice (as with the current Bike Share scheme).

Posted on Monday 14 December 2020