It’s long overdue and a welcome return for the on demand ride bikes in Plymouth. You might remember a few years back we had the dockless bikes, which were kinda popular but ended up discarded in weird places. But now we have Beryl bikes filling the gap for on demand rides in Plymouth.
We’ve been using them since they arrived, so here is our take on the joys of Beryl Bikes.
What are Beryl Bikes?
Beryl Bikes are ebikes, meaning they have an electric motor to help you whizz along. This makes them absolutely perfect for Plymouth, allowing you to cruise up our steep hills without too much exertion.
You’ve probably also seen ebikes widely used by Deliveroo riders and pretty much anyone else cycling around these days.
To be clear, they are nothing like motorbikes, as the motor just takes the strain off your cycling making it easier to peddle up steep inclines.
How to use a Beryl bike in Plymouth
First things first, you’re going to need to download the Beryl Bike app. It’s available for iOS or Android, so get that on your phone and setup your payment information.
It literally takes 2 minutes, if that, and it’s pretty self explanatory and user friendly.
Once you’re all set up you just need to find a Beryl bike!
The app shows you where the nearest dock is to you. It will also show you how many bikes are available, with a greyed out 0 (zero) obviously meaning no bikes.
Once you’ve found a dock with bikes available, you need to choose your bike and then open the app. You’ll see a big ‘Unlock’ button on the home page.
On the handlebars on every Beryl Bike there is a nice big NFC pad. (Nearfield contact, same as you use for Apple Pay/Google Pay). You simply tap the ‘Unlock’ button on your phone, lay the phone on the pad and wait for it to unlock. This should take a few seconds and the sound of the lock on the rear wheel unlocking will indicate that your bike is ready to roll.
Once you arrive at your destination, you simply find a dock, pop your bike in an available space and lock the bike using the lock on the wheel.
My Beryl Bike didn’t unlock!
From time to time, you’ll hit the unlock and the bike will say it has unlocked and is ready to ride, but the lock didn’t actually work. Usually when thus happens the app will realise and will say something like ‘Something has gone wrong’.
If this happens, move onto another bike and try again.
You won’t be charged and if you think you have been then the customer service on the app is usually pretty responsive.
If there is only one bike available, give it a moment, and try again.
Sometimes fiddling with the lock to help it unlock can help – but don’t force it or you’ll break the bike.
If there is an issue with the bike you can also try and let customer support know.
I don’t have NFC on my phone!
If you don’t have NFC then you can still unlock your bike by finding the code on the unlock pad and using that instead. Just below the unlock button in the app, you’ll see ‘Or enter unlock ID’.
Simply tap that, check your bikes code tallies with the app and hit the unlock.
The bike will take a few seconds and, presto! You’re ready to go.
How much does a Beryl bike cost to use?
To unlock a Beryl Bike costs £1, which is non-refundable. You’ll then pay 15p per minute that you’re using the bike. So as an example, if you go from Devonport to Drakes Circus or the University, a journey of around 15 minutes by Beryl Bike, you’ll pay £1 plus £2.25 (15 mins x 0.15p), a total of £3.25.
These bikes are quite fast though, so you can easily cut down a standard cycle time with a Beryl Bike.
I’ve used them numerous times for journeys across town, and the price is usually around £2 to £3 for me.
Remember that if you lock your Beryl Bike outside of a designated docking station, you may incur an additional fee of £10. Even if there are no spaces in the docking bays, so long as you are parked as close as possible, you’ll avoid the fee.
Tips for using a Beryl Bike in Plymouth
Like any riding any bike, you should take care when riding a Beryl Bike through Plymouth. For starters, cycle lanes are quite rare, and there can be a lot of oblivious pedestrians, especially in the city centre and around the Barbican.
Remember also that these bikes are pretty quick, so be respectable and try not to bomb through areas full of pedestrians or kids. Crashing into someone would cause a lot of damage to both you and them, so ride sensibly. Avoid riding off road as these are not made for dirt riding and they are made for everyone to use – so stick to roads or cycle paths where possible.
You might also think that a Beryl Bike is a good option if you’ve had a few drinks. This is a terrible idea for multiple reasons.
Firstly, riding while drunk or under the influence is illegal and you could be subject to the same legal ramifications as a drunk driver. In short, you could be arrested and if you do have a drivers licence, that could be confiscated.
Secondly, operating a bike while drunk means you’re less able to assess danger and you might either cause yourself or someone else an injury. Take a cab or walk instead.
There are no Beryl Bike docking stations near where I want to go, what can I do?
The distribution of Beryl Bikes is a bit odd and there aren’t as many as them as there should be. But… If you have a suggestion for dock placement, you can let them know in the app. Drop a message in the chat box and they’ll send you a link to request a dock.
Docks need to be placed off road, in areas with at least 6 feet of clearance for pedestrians to get by. So they are best suited to wide pavements or areas in car parks or small squares/tarmacced areas.
Find out more about Beryl Bikes on their official site.