A Chat With Philip Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO at Urban Cycling Brand: Beryl

Beryl is a British urban cycling brand, micromobility operator and bike light manufacturer. In 2012 we started out as Blaze, producing innovative cycle safety accessories such as the unique Laserlight bike light, and subsequently supporting technology for key bike share schemes.

Through that work, we began to understand the challenges of micromobility schemes, and set out to deliver our own in 2018, which is also when we changed our name to Beryl. Today, we operate bike share, e-bike share and e-scooter hire schemes in locations across the country including Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole, Norwich, the Isle of Wight, Hereford and Watford. In fact, we were the first single operator in the UK to offer all three vehicle options in a scheme. We also provide the technology for the recently launched bike share scheme in the West Midlands.

Through our unique mechanisms and technology platform, we’re offering people a range of sustainable, safe and ultimately enjoyable transport options.
 
 
British Beryl's bike-share chosen for bike share pilot in New York
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
Initially, we wanted to produce something that would help keep people on bikes safe and be seen. Our Laserlight projects a laser image of a bike 5 metres ahead of the bike.

We then evolved into a B2B company integrating technology (such as GPS tracking etc.) into schemes such as the Santander bikes in London, before deciding it was something we wanted to do ourselves.

We took our inspiration for our name from Beryl Burton, the award-winning cyclist back in the 1960s. Not only did she absolutely dominate racing at that time, she also set a women’s record for the 12-hour time trial. A record actually exceeded the men’s effort at the time for over two years.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
As it was for everyone, the start of the pandemic was really difficult – and we’ve all had to adapt how we work. We launched our scheme in Norwich in March last year, which was something of a challenge!

Although micromobility was already growing before the pandemic, it has accelerated over the last year or so. With our roads quieter during the first lockdown, people realised the benefits and appeal of travelling by bike or e-scooter in a socially distanced, safe and healthy way.

The increase in demand alongside additional support for active travel from Government and Local Authorities has allowed us to roll out new options, such as e-bikes in our scheme in Hereford.

We’re constantly evaluating our schemes and working with local stakeholders to ensure that they work for everyone in the community. Hopefully, the changes we’ve seen in how people travel will stick, not only helping our environment but improving public health and reducing congestion – and we’re proud to be playing our part in that.
 

What can we hope to see from Beryl in the future?

 
We’re anticipating a huge summer across our schemes in the coming months. As lockdown restrictions ease and the weather improves, we know people will want to get out and about in a safe and convenient way.

There are some exciting things planned, not only for delivering more schemes but bringing in new options as well – watch this space!