Beryl bikes in Bushey will “help get people out of cars”, a senior councillor has said.
Hertsmere Borough Council’s cabinet has green-lit a one-off £45,000 spend on the scheme, which will buy around 15 e-bikes and new infrastructure like cycle parking bays.
The money will come from financial contributions which developers make when they secure planning permission. The Bushey scheme would expand the Watford hire area, which is currently restricted to local government boundaries.
Next-door Three Rivers District Council has also agreed to spend £45,000 of its budget on new bikes to expand the hire area into Croxley Green, where there is a London Underground Metropolitan Line station.
Councillor Paul Richards (LD, Bushey North) is the cabinet member for environmental sustainability and deputy leader at Hertsmere Borough Council. At a meeting on Wednesday, January 10, he said: “On joining the administration in 2023, one of the key priorities was to expand the options for our residents to enjoy more sustainable ways to travel.
“As a Bushey ward councillor, I have always looked enviously over the border into Watford – and more recently into Borehamwood – where there has been a very successful introduction of the Beryl bikes.”
Cllr Nik Oakley (Lab, Borehamwood Kenilworth) is responsible for borough council transport. She said: “My mission is to get people out of their cars and this is one more tool in our armoury for doing that.”
Opposition leader Cllr Morris Bright (Con, Elstree) said: “It’s about exercise, which is very important.
“It’s about getting vehicles off the road and that’s being done in a multitude of ways – better cycleways, more encouragement around walking and making areas safer to do that, and more bus services.
“I think it’s part of a bigger focus on environment, health and sustainability.”
Beryl operates a separate cycle hire area in Elstree and Borehamwood. If Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford councils sign off on the expansion, there is scope to link it with the Borehamwood hire area but “the timeline and funding arrangements for [this phase] are yet to be determined”, according to a cabinet report.
Sadiq Khan: ‘Urgent legislation needed to improve safety’
The Watford scheme has 33,171 active users, and the average ride time is 25 minutes.
Bushey’s London Overground station is already in the hire zone because it falls in Watford Borough Council’s area. At a London Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday, December 21, Liberal Democrat assembly member Caroline Pidgeon asked: “What plans are there to enable people to have access to these bikes at Bushey Station, to encourage active transport?”
Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Dockless e-bikes are a popular way to get around and I’m pleased to hear that they are popular in Watford, supporting sustainable, multi-modal journeys.
“Bushey Station is owned by Network Rail, operated by Arriva Rail London and located in Hertfordshire, outside of the Greater London boundary.
“I would encourage the scheme operators to meet with the council to understand whether the scheme’s operating area could be extended to the station.
“While dockless cycle hire schemes provide greater opportunities for people to incorporate cycling into their daily travel needs, bringing health and wellbeing benefits, cities and local areas across the country lack the powers to properly regulate them.
“We have repeatedly asked government for the urgent legislation needed to improve safety, ensure parking is better controlled and provide a better experience for customers.”