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< Next week at the Capitol | Main | Game on >

A bicycle built for booze

Posted at 12:08 PM on March 24, 2008 by Michael Marchio (7 Comments)

Every once in a while, a bill gets introduced that seems so off the wall you have to read it twice. Then rub your eyes, read it again, and make sure that nobody spiked your coffee with anything fun.

Well, HF3849 is one of those bills. Authored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) the bill would allow for consumption of alcohol on commercial multi-passenger bicycles. What does this multi-passenger bicycle look like? Other than the pedals, not much of a bicycle at all, it turns out.

The vehicle you see in that clip is owned by a company called Pedal Pub, LLC, and they operate pub crawl tours around the Twin Cities. I spoke with Al Boyce, one of the managing partners of the company who approached Rep. Simon with the idea for the legislation. Boyce said that the state's current open bottle law applies only to motor vehicles, and says nothing about these pedal-powered contraptions, but that local ordinances in some cities, including Minneapolis, would still be able to ticket riders under their public consumption laws. So on tours right now, the vehicle must either be on private property with the owner's permission to serve alcohol, or people hop out when it pulls up to a bar.

The bill would clarify that these vehicles be treated the same under the law as chauffeured buses or limousines, so that alcohol could be served in public while on streets and in parks. The company provides a designated "driver" on its rides, so the people drinking and pedaling wouldn't be the ones behind the wheel.

Boyce said the company did 80 tours last year, and that theirs is currently the only vehicle of its kind in the United States - about 30 are operating in Amsterdam, where this trend started.

The bill was approved by the Commerce and Labor Committee, and was rolled into HF3829, the alcohol omnibus bill.

Comments (7)

There is indeed something similar to this in Austin, Texas:
The Austin 'bike' is smaller and I don't think they offer drinking alcohol on these in Austin, but I'm not sure.

Posted by Tom Wald | March 25, 2008 12:02 AM

While I firmly believe American drinking ages are totally stupid - arg, don't get me going on that one ... My profession (industrial hygiene) deals with occupational safety and interpretation of rules & regulations. Of course, being a safety-geek, rather than a political one, I am nevertheless curious about other rules, which might be relevant. But as potential legislation, like this bill, are a *complete* waste of taxpayer's money compared to, say, cap & trade policy of greenhouse gases.

How do they enforce the drinking age? Isn't the business selling the alcohol responsible to check that they're all 21? How do they do this, if everyone's on the bike?

Can someone under 21 ride on the vehicle? If so, how do they control access to the alcohol? I.e., passengers sharing - this is controlled by the owner, if inside - is the bike driver responsible for this? If so, does she need to have an alcohol license?

Does bringing previously sold alcohol onto another private property violate health board rules? Like bringing food from one restaurant into another one?

Does the cyclist need a commercial driver's license? Like a bus driver or cabbie?

For that matter, are the passengers required to wear safety restraining devices? They aren't on buses/taxis, admittedly.

Is the bike-driver required to have personal auto insurance, or does their business cover it?

Skol! Slainte! Cheers! Prost! Zum Voll!

Posted by GopherMPH | March 25, 2008 12:15 PM

Good comments. I was recently in Austin, Tom, and those things do look strange crawling down the street - just a tangle of arms and legs bouncing up and down. This kind seems like they've refined the concept a bit.

And great questions to think about GopherMPH. When I talked to the owner, he mentioned that the company is required to provide the driver because of insurance reasons. Apparently the alcohol would be BYOB on the vehicle if this passes, but I'd be interested in how they prevent people younger than 21 from going on a booze cruise, or pedal, as it were.


Posted by Michael Marchio | March 25, 2008 12:38 PM

To GopherMPH:

It appears to me the owners of the "vehicle" have it under control. They provide the driver, the insurance, maintenance, etc. and it is operated (slowly I might add) right out in the public's eye for plenty of scrutiny. If any problems arise, it won't take long for the authorities to crack down on them. They have gone through all of the proper channels and much red tape to operate a business that is unique and probably mariginally profitable.

I, for one, would enjoy a nice cold beer during and after pedaling my buns off for a couple of hours.

Let's not try and micro-manage another free enterprize operation into extinction. Sounds like you need to loosen your shorts up a bit and back off on the old "rules" and go out and have a cocktail - maybe you could hold a loss-control seminar on the PedalPub?

Skol! Slainte! Cheers! Prost! Zum Voll!

Posted by Pete Thomes | March 25, 2008 3:33 PM


whoa! I *don't* want to micromanage anything. I'm sorry if it came across that way ---

I think the pending legislation mentioned is stupid. I merely wanted to present other stupid things that are similarly "questionable", as in some idiot would come up with another waste of the public's time & money to try to legislate. I could care less, as long as they're not trying to bike in front of my car.

I really do keep my 'risk management' to work. Although, at the moment, a nice cocktail would be grand (scotch, actually). Without the bike (until it gets warmer anyway).

I applaud whomever came up with the business model. American Ingenuity at its best: find a market and make money; failing that, create a market and make money. Yee ha, capitalism!


Posted by GopherMPH | March 25, 2008 5:26 PM

I don't understand how this is a waste of taxpayer money. I don't see where the bill is asking for a cent. The PedalPub just wants the same legal permissions granted to other chauffeured vehicles like buses or limousines. And with a GREEN vehicle at that! If this type of vehicle had been around when this law was originally written, it probably would have been included in the first place.

Also, to Tom Wald - the bikes you saw in Austin, TX are in Minnesota also. Check out: .

Posted by Fred Fortinbras | March 26, 2008 2:41 PM

taxpayer money? - we pay the legislature's salary. They could spend their time trying to compromise and play nice together. They could spend more of their time actually reading the bills they vote on. (I sat through the Senate Environmental Committee hearing on cap & trade of greenhouse gases. The chairman stated he hadn't read the bill.)

The simple process of getting a bill through the legislature takes money - printing agendas, posting it to internet for public review, bringing in experts to testify at committee hearings for everyone to understand the consequences of the proposed legislation, re-publishing the laws after approval, informing the public of the changes, et al. And, yes, absolutely all of these steps are necessary so that we, the Public, can keep tabs on the people we chose to run our government.

The gov’t needs to spend more time considering the development of technology and the broad applicability of laws. Fred F. wrote: “if it had been around...” Well, if the current law had been drafted better, i.e., “people riding in a commercial vehicle can drink alcohol”, then this fellow wouldn’t need to worry about his business. Laws can be both too specific as well as too broad.

[Contrary to what my initial comment might imply, I really have a pretty laissez faire attitude to many categories of law: alcohol consumption is one of them. I could care less who’s drinking, as long as they’re no driving.]

Just running the government takes money. I would rather they spent my money on legislation that will have more of an immediate and broad-reaching impact on the public. Greenhouse gases; funding study for neurological disorders in the Austin pork-processing plant; developing wastewater treatment for those folks discharging raw sewage up stream of here into the Mississippi, to name a few.

In my opinions here, I do not imply the owner of this business shouldn’t be doing this - he’s protecting his ability to run his business. No, I don’t have my knickers in a twist. My comments here (and above) are on the legislative *process*, not this specific bill, which I simply find to be an appropriate example to use in stating those opinions.

Posted by GopherMPH | March 27, 2008 11:57 AM