Saturday, September 8, 2018

Get ready for the Oshkosh Beer Bike

PedalPub LLC
This screen capture from the PedalPub website displays an example of a 12-passenger party bike.

By Miles Maguire
Get ready for the Oshkosh Beer Bike--a trolley-like contraption powered by its passengers and combining light exercise with the chance to get light-headed through the consumption of onboard beverages.

If all goes according to plan, and the Oshkosh Common Council gives its OK, city residents and visitors will have the chance to cycle and sip their way through the Sawdust District and adjoining neighborhoods as of next May.

They will be riding aboard a party bike, or in official city legalese, a “commercial quadricycle.” On the party bike, eight to 16 riders will get to pedal their way around while drinking beer they have previously purchased and brought on board.

“You can basically ride the streets and enjoy the downtown sights,” said City Manager Mark Rohloff.

City leaders have expressed their doubts about this kind of open-air drinking in the past, but it is legal under Wisconsin law. The only recourse to restrict party biking is to pass a local law, which is why city staff has put together a ordinance that will come before the council Tuesday.

Party bikes are “picking up a lot of interest,” Rohloff said. “It’s one of those cool community type of things,” he added. “We’ll certainly give it a shot.”

The city has been approached by Cary Fisher, a 25-year-old from Germantown who came to Oshkosh to go to school, to begin operating the Oshkosh Beer Bike next May. He would be a franchisee of a Minneapolis company called PedalPub LLC, which says it has 40 operations around the country, including in Milwaukee and Madison.

Fisher says he plans to operate exclusively on the south side, using the Sawdust District as his base.

“I have found huge interest in the Sawdust District,” Fisher said. He expects further growth in that part of the city, and “that’s where I want the Pedal Pub to be.”

His customer base will include tourists attending events such as EAA AirVenture, members of wedding parties and groups of college friends, he said.

A website will allow customers to reserve the beer bike, which he said can accommodate up to 16 people. He would serve as the “designated driver” steering the vehicle while another employee would open beer and pour it for the passengers/pedalers. 

Tours would last up to three hours, including stops to patronize local establishments such as Fifth Ward Brewing, Pete’s Garage Bar, the Maple Pub at the Menominee Nation Area, the Granary and South of the Border. 

The party bike will “give the people of Oshkosh an active lifestyle,” he said. “It’s what people want to do.”

Although Fisher plans to operate south of the Fox River, the proposed ordinance does not limit the activity to this area.

According to a staff memo, the proposed law would contain these restrictions:

  • There would be no sales or service of alcohol other than beer on the quadricycle.
  • The routes must be approved by the city and any changes in routes must be approved by the city.
  • No routes would operate on sidewalks, recreational trails, the Riverwalk or the bridges over the Fox River. 
  • Loading and unloading passengers must be done in legal parking spaces.
  • The pedal pub hours are limited to 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • The pedal pub driver must have a driver' s license and obey traffic laws.
  • No music or other noise audible above conversational speech levels at a distance of 25 feet.
  • The quadricycle must display commercial quadricycle license. 
  • The pedal pub driver may not consume alcohol during operation and may not have a blood alcohol content greater than 0.02.


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