How coronavirus outbreak has delayed a rollout of hire bikes in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 February 2020
A new Norwich cycle-sharing scheme is facing delays to its rollout due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The Beryl Bikes scheme will see a mixture of pedal cycles and electrically assisted e-bikes dotted throughout the city following its launch later this spring.
But the factory supplying the firm with motors for the e-bikes has been hit by the outbreak of the respiratory illness and forced to temporarily shut its doors.
At a meeting of the Transforming Cities joint committee, held on Wednesday, February 19, councillors were told the factory had "temporarily closed down" affecting the rollout of the first batch of Beryl e-bikes.
Ed Parnaby, county council transport officer, said: "The motors for the Beryl bikes have been delayed by coronavirus in China. The factory has temporarily closed down."
He told councillors the scheme would see the city receive a total of 580 bikes - 465 pedal operated and 115 electrically powered.
But the e-bikes are now set to be rolled out later than anticipated due to the fatal outbreak - which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 victims after it first came to light in the Wuhan province.
"We're going to be waiting until April for the first batch of 25 e-bikes, and as late as July for the rest of the 90," he added.
"I think its an unavoidable element and Beryl are trying to pin this down with their supplier."
The Beryl scheme will launch with 300 pedal bikes and the other 165 will follow in April or May.
Mr Parnaby said: "Only e-bikes are subject to delays.
"It could be better than this, but it could be worse.
"We've been told between March 17 to the end of April for the first 25 e-bikes. The rest of the 90 are expected in May to the end of June, and it could even be July."
Speaking after the meeting, he was not able to confirm where in China the factory was located or whether it was still on lockdown.
But he added: "Brose, who make the motors are based in China."
In 2018, the automotive manufacturer opened a new factory in Taicang, near Shanghai, which is more than 500 miles east of Wuhan, a city in the central Chinese province of Hubei.
Brose operates several other plants across China, including in the nation's capital, Beijing.
Councillors voted unanimously to issue temporary traffic regulation orders for the initial five Beryl bike bays.