Staten Island Gets A New Bike Share System: Beryl

Beryl founder Emily Brooke on one of her company's rentable bikes, the kind of bike that won't debut on Staten Island until 2021.
Beryl founder Emily Brooke on one of her company's rentable bikes, the kind of bike that won't debut on Staten Island until 2021.

The city has squeezed Lime and booted Jump out of Staten Island, choosing an entirely new — and foreign — company to provide dockless bikes across the entire borough.

The DOT just revealed it had inked a deal with Beryl, a United Kingdom-based company best known for its funky green bike lights that showed up briefly on Citi Bikes, to operate 1,000 standard pedal bikes across the Rock. The company operates only small systems overseas. It does not have any system in the U.S.

JUMP and Lime will remove their bikes by Nov. 15 and Dec. 3, respectively, the DOT said. Beryl bikes will start showing up in spring, 2020.

The Beryl system is dockless, but relies on incentives to get users to return the bikes to “bays” — parking spaces that are painted on the ground and which appear in the Beryl app. In the United Kingdom, users are charged 2 pounds if they do not return the bike to a bay — “a strong incentive” to avoid street clutter, said a company spokeswoman.

In a statement, DOT spokeswoman Alana Morales said, “Beryl presented a robust proposal to cover the whole island and has a proven track record overseas particularly in regards to their ability to limit sidewalk obstruction and clutter.” (She did not provide additional information about the track record of a company that apparently only operates 1,500 bikes in two small English towns and a small portion of London.)

The selection of Beryl caps a tumultuous period for bike share on Staten Island, which began with Jump and Lime in July, 2018. That pilot program featured about 400 bikes and was limited to only the northern part of the borough, but in April, DOT revealed it would expand the service to the entirety of the island — which still does not have any roadway with a protected bike lane. Four companies responded to the city’s request for proposals: JUMP, Lime, Beryl, and Gotcha.

Then: controversy. Earlier this summer, Jump announced it would pull out of the program, apparently in a tiff with DOT about the proposed expansion. The company later revealed it would stay as negotiations continued. Apparently, those talks did not end well for the Uber-owned company. (We’ve reached out, but have not heard back. The city said in a statement that Jump might continue to have a “role” on Staten Island.)

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg cheered Jump and Lime’s work on the island in her announcement today: “This next exciting phase of our bike share pilot will allow us to work with a promising company to deliver a great and convenient transportation option to all of Staten Island. We very much thank JUMP and Lime, as we learned a lot in the last year-and-a-half from more than 136,000 trips their customers took, lessons we will apply starting next year.

“We look forward to sharing more details of Beryl’s plans in the months ahead – and this spring, we look forward to welcoming brand-new and distinctive Beryl bikes to all of ‘The Rock,’” Trottenberg added.

Jump and Lime’s systems featured pedal-assist e-bikes. Beryl’s bikes will not be electric. Staten Island is known for its rolling hills.

Lime did not try to spin the end of its pilot program as anything but a positive.

“Lime is proud it could provide Staten Islanders with reliable, accessible new transportation options so that anyone could get around more easily, regardless of income or ZIP code. It is clear from our successful pilots in Staten Island and the Rockaways that there is a significant need for dock-free micromobility options throughout New York,” said Phil Jones, Lime’s senior government relations director. “Lime is also proud of the community partnerships it forged and the great work we were able to do together on behalf of New Yorkers. We look forward to working with our community partners again in the future.”