E-bikes have arrived in Truro to a mixed reception. 

A new fleet of 25 e-bikes, soon to be 50, is now available to hire across the city, managed by micromobility provider Beryl on behalf of Cornwall Council, and funded by the council’s Carbon Neutral Cornwall fund and the Department for Transport. 

The bikes can be hired from and returned to 20 Beryl bays, which have been located following consultation with communities and key stakeholders. These range from key locations including the bus station, New County Hall, Truro College and Leisure Centre and the Royal Cornwall Hospital, and docking points across the city from Bodmin Road in the east to Threemilestone in the west. 

However, within days of being distributed around the city, many bikes were reported to be lying on their side as a result of being blown over in strong winds or kicked over by vandals. There was also confusion about whether there were any docking stations.

Pete Keen pointed out in the Truro … Our City Facebook group that a similar scheme in London had worked well, with good promotion, bikes located in high pick-up areas and drop off areas and clearly marked docking stations. 

“Going around Truro the last few days, it looks like someone has been dumping stacks of bikes around the place,” he said. “There are no docking stations, lack of promotion and very little understanding of use unless you have a smart phone. It’s a good thing but so far poorly, planning promoted and delivered.” 

However, many pointed out how rental schemes have been successful across the UK and would be equally beneficial in Cornwall. 

“Getting in and out of Truro is a nightmare,” said Sarah Marshall. “These are an environmentally friendly alternative for those that would find them advantageous and would prefer not to spend most of their commute queuing in traffic. All new schemes have teething problems - sometimes we need to focus on the positives.” 

The scheme is operated by Beryl on behalf of Cornwall Council and has been funded by the Council’s Carbon Neutral Cornwall Fund. The e-bikes launched in Falmouth last September, followed by Penzance in December; between them, the two towns have 100 e-bikes and more than 1,500 people have signed up to the Beryl app, reportedly clocking up nearly 26,000km over 8,000 rides. St Austell is due to join the e-bike share scheme on Monday and Newquay also in the pipeline.  

A spokesperson for Beryl said the bikes are “dockless” but need to be parked in specific bays marked out in green to prevent riders incurring a fee. On-street teams can view the battery status remotely and charge them up as and when required. 

“Unfortunately, the recent wet weather has meant we have been unable to fully mark out the bays with paint beyond the corners. We will do this as soon as conditions allow but in the meantime, bays are visible in the app and rides should be ended within a bay. The bikes also have a stand, which should be used at the end of each ride to prevent them from falling onto the floor. “Our on-street teams will continue to work incredibly hard to look after scheme practicalities, such as rebalancing bikes at key hub locations.”

Pay As You Ride is best for single journeys or occasional rides and will cost users £1.50 unlocking fee and 10p per minute. Minute bundles enable regular users to buy upfront and save money, starting at 100 minutes for £5. Download the Beryl app.