Detroit City Council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that will allow patrons of “pedal pubs,” or mobile bars on wheels powered by the pedaling of the patrons, to now consume alcohol on board in the city.
These pedal pubs are similar to “Trolley Pub” and other companies in Ann Arbor that also offer the same service. These pedal pubs have been legal in Ann Arbor since September 2015.
In July 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing passengers of pedal pubs to drink on board, but individual constituencies are still allowed to decide at their own discretion whether or not to allow onboard consumption. While Ann Arbor has allowed onboard consumption since the inception of pedal pubs, Detroit had not until this vote.
Business senior Joel Goldstein has patronized pedal pubs in both Ann Arbor and Detroit, and the ability to drink on board provides a completely different experience.
“The tours in Detroit are awesome,” Goldstein said. “It’s fun to be in and see the more beautiful parts of the city. But that experience doesn’t even compare to the one I had in Ann Arbor. There’s nothing quite like cruising down South State with a beer in hand.”
However, not everyone is happy about the recent decision. Business sophomore Andrew Berman, who interned for Quicken Loans in Detroit the last four summers, said traffic in the downtown area is bad enough without pedal pubs.
“There are already a lot of traffic issues in Detroit because of the lack of funds for the city,” Berman said. “Those pedal pubs have gotten in my way before and I imagine that they will only be more obtrusive if people start drinking on them.”
Current legislation does stipulate that all pedal pub businesses must provide a driver with a BAC of 0.00 who directs steering and braking. Some pedal pub business from Detroit addresses safety concerns on their website.
There are currently three pedal pub businesses active in Detroit: The Michigan Pedaler, Detroit Cycle Pub and The HandleBar. Previously, these businesses operated around the alcohol ban by acting as a pub crawl, stopping at two or three bars during the tour to offer ample opportunity for their patrons to get a few drinks.
“It’s something that’s become quite popular,” City Attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell said of the tours in an interview with Detroit Free Press. “We believe that, with the restrictions in place, that it will operate just fine in Detroit.”
Hollowell noted that it remains unclear exactly when pedal pubs will be allowed to offer consumption on board, as owners will have to apply for a license from the police department.
The pedal pub industry has surprised many with its popularity. Proponents of the businesses said they believe they offer new opportunities for entrepreneurs in the city, as well as help local bars who benefit from the pedal pubs’ frequent stops.
“They roll through all day long,” said Sean Harrington, owner of the Town Pump Tavern. “They bring happy, fun customers. They stay for a few minutes, have a couple of drinks, maybe have something to eat and then they move along.”