Pedal-powered pub rides coming to town?

Alex Doty • Apr 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The rise in popularity of craft breweries has led to another emerging business — pedal-powered craft beer tours. And they may soon be seen in Grand Haven.

Known as pedal pubs, these human-powered quadricycles seat 10-15 people for craft beer, wine and spirit tours.

The owners of Grand Armory Brewing Co. have approached Grand Haven Main Street officials about operating a pub here.

"We’d like to offer a taxi service that would essentially bring people who are at the beach who aren't necessarily going to hoof it into downtown to get them into town, and essentially bring them back, or grab a new set of people to bring them back down to the water,” said Grand Armory Brewing co-founder Ben Tabor.

Tabor said he envisions the Grand Armory pedal pub rides lasting roughly 15 minutes, taking people down Harbor Drive toward the waterfront.

The idea of a pedal-powered pub isn’t something new.

“These have been growing in popularity over the last few decades,” said Grand Haven Main Street AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer Coordinator Joel Saukas. “They started in the Netherlands in the late 1990s. We're a Dutch town, so we're hoping that is popular here."

The pedal pubs operate in 18 states, and several towns in Michigan already have them.

"Traverse City actually worked with Michigan Liquor Control and the Legislature in Lansing to change the laws in 2015 to allow these to operate in Michigan," Grand Haven Main Street Executive Director Diane Sheridan said. 

The pedal pubs operate under the limousine section of state law.

"They're required to have a sober driver at all times — it's a licensed driver that has a background check and is hired by the company,” Sheridan said. “It's not like you or I could go out and rent a pedal pub and take our friends out for a party. It's a licensed driver that has a zero tolerance for drinking and driving.”

Drivers are also not allowed to sell alcohol to the riders, and Sheridan noted that they are also subject to various local restrictions such as approved routes, and whether people are allowed to drink on the vehicles or if they are just to transport people from pub to pub.

"Grand Rapids, for example, allows consumption of alcohol on theirs, as does Traverse City, Bay City, Mount Clemens, Ann Arbor and Detroit,” Sheridan said. “But in Kalamazoo, Marquette and East Lansing, they go from pub to pub, but you can't bring alcohol on the cycle.”

Saukas called pedal pubs a “great social experience” for those who are involved.

"Besides the drinking, they're also great for enhancing the health and well-being of the citizens,” he said. “If you're going to go drink, you might as well get some exercise while you’re out there."

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