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E-scooters available to hire again in Birmingham after five-month break

E-scooters are available to hire again in Birmingham from today after a five-month break.

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200 of the new, turquoise devices are dotted around the city and ready to book via app with another 700 due to be rolled out in phases by the end of September.

British company Beryl is behind the new operation which costs £1 to unlock and 20p per minute to use.

Riders must be 18 or over and have a valid UK driving licence and must stick to roads, cycle lanes, carriageways and other areas where cycling is permitted – pavements are off limits.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) had been under pressure to confirm safety measures ahead of the new brand of Beryl e-scooters which will replace the trialled Voi e-scooters after a three-and-a-half year trial which ended in February.

Tragically in December, 12-year-old Mustafa Nadeem died after colliding with a bus while riding one of the coral-coloured scooters.

An inquest heard the device had been unlocked using a friend’s phone which had access to their parent’s account and at the hearing in June, his family urged operators to use facial recognition technology to prevent children from using the devices.

During the inquest Jack Samler, regional general manager for Voi Technology UK Limited said underage riders were “of concern” and Voi took the issue very seriously and continually challenged itself on how to prevent underage riding of its e-scooters.

But he added that facial recognition at the point of hire would be “impractical from a cost perspective.”

Beryl’s safety measures include driving licence scanning technology with selfie verification on sign up and further checks when moving accounts to a new device.

There will also be both random and targeted selfie verification checks to deter misuse.

Another change from the earlier scheme means scooters will need to be collected from and parked in docking bays in an effort to keep streets tidy.

Beryl CEO and co-founder, Phil Ellis, said: “We’re really excited to be working with another of the UK’s major city regions and I’m confident that our experience and innovation can help our e-scooters become a crucial cog in the region’s integrated urban transport network.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Over the last three years, e-scooters became a fixture of Birmingham’s transport network – often proving to be a popular alternative to cars for shorter journeys and helping to reduce road traffic congestion.

“I would like to thank regular e-scooter users for their patience during the transition to that new operator – the UK based firm Beryl.

“Central to Beryl’s approach is a docked or parked system which will help reduce clutter on the roadside – ensuring tidier streets and a better experience for pedestrians.

“Another key element – crucial given previous incidents and lessons to be learnt – is putting in place more safety checks and enhanced verification of users in order to deter underage riders and other instances of misuse.

“E-scooters must be operated responsibly and – in partnership with Beryl – we will continuously monitor these new measures to ensure local people can be reassured about what we’re offering.”

Coun Liz Clements (Lab, Bournville & Cotteridge), Birmingham City Council cabinet member for transport added: “E-scooters provide another sustainable form of transport and I’m pleased to see the extra safety measures with this trial.

“Being able to use them alongside cycle hire, with many of the parking bays located alongside cycle docking stations, means people can hop from one to other and venture even further afield on sustainable, active transport.”