New Rule Would Formally Allow Drinking on Party Bikes


The River City Pedalars party bike. - BIANCA PHILLIPS
  • Bianca Phillips
  • The River City Pedalars party bike.

Call them pedal bars, party bikes, or pedi-cabs but the Memphis City Council wants to make sure riders can drink on them safely.

A new rule got started through the city’s legislative process Tuesday that would allow patrons of the party bikes to drink while they pedal.

The River City Pedalers opened for business in December. It’s a party bike, a mobile bar that's propelled through the streets of downtown by pedal power. Patrons do the pedaling (and the boozing) while co-owner and licensed party bike operator Russell Young does the steering.

Aubrey Howard, administrator of the city’s permits office, said pedi-cabs are already at work in Memphis. But he advises the companies to stay on Beale Street (while it’s closed) with open containers of alcohol.

The new rule would allow patrons to bring alcohol on the bikes. The rule was brought to the Memphis City Council by council member Reid Hedgepeth, who said he was asked to sponsor the rule by a constituent.

“For me, it’s a way to get some things that our peer cities are doing here,” Hedgepeth said. “In order for this to work, patrons should be able to take a cooler of beer on the cart and go pedal. There should be some conversations as this ordinance goes through (the council process).”

Council member Berlin Boyd said he rode a party bike in Nashville.

“We had a blast,” Boyd said. “You’re amongst friends, grab a couple of beers, and pedal your problems away. I like it. Good job.”

Council member Harold Collins was worried about safety.

“I’ve seen one of the pedal machines on Beale Street and Gayoso,” he said. “I immediately looked at that and said, ’that thing is dangerous for a whole bunch of reasons.’ I’m afraid if we don’t do something then we may be putting the city at risk.”

Hedgepeth clarified that the the bike drivers are not allowed to drink, only those who are pedaling.

“I don’t have any friends, so I drink alone,” said council member Shea Flinn. “So, this is not something I would partake in because I’d get tired (pedaling by myself). But if it’s going to be something that’s going to become part of the social fabric (in the city), we do need to have reasonable requirements on them so people can have fun.”

Council member Bill Boyd said, “I’m anti-fun.”

Berlin Boyd responded, “you and Shea need to become friends.”

The new rule will require three votes by the full council, which could put its final passage in a month and a half.

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