Monday, December 17, 2012
North Texas’ first “beer bike” is ready for pub crawls
You’ve got to try it.
FORT WORTH People walking in downtown Fort Worth stopped and stared Thursday night. What is that? several asked. It was the maiden voyage of North Texas’ first big BYOB bicycle, a jolly new vehicle that the city of Fort Worth had to write a special amendment to an ordinance just to let on the streets.
Cowtown Cycle Pub fits more than a dozen people, each with a cupholder in front of each seat and pedals down below. A driver steers the vehicle, which maintains all the rights of a bicycle and putters along just slow enough for passengers to take in all the sights. The driver hits the brakes or flips on the turn signal at intersections while passengers pedal and swig drinks.
This thing is fun.
We couldn’t help but grin and grab on tight as driver Keely Peden chirped “let’s give it a little more juice!” as we pedaled away. The cycle pub made its first appearance in the Parade of Lights in late November, but Thursday’s ride was its first true tour around the streets of Fort Worth.
“Be sure to stay hydrated,” Peden joked as we pedaled until the bike coasted on downtown Fort Worth’s flat roads. Thank goodness we weren't in San Francisco.
The cycle pub is owned by Peden’s mom Vicki Peden, who was a passenger on a similar beer bike in Austin several years ago and fell in love with the concept. It took two years to get appropriate permits and have the ordinance amendment written to allow the non-motorized vehicle to lawfully ride on Fort Worth streets.
“We’re not a pedicab, we’re not a horse-drawn carriage. Our first hurdle was, What do you call this thing?” Vicki said. City officials ended up taking the limo ordinance and tweaking it to fit the cycle pub, since, like a limo, passengers who are of legal age are allowed to drink on it. Once the amendment was written, it was passed unanimously by the city council and advocated for by Mayor Betsy Price, said Fort Worth Chief of Staff Jason Lamers. The cycle pub falls in line with Fort Worth's Healthy City Initiative.
"I think it’s a unique way to get around and see the city," Price said. "We like to offer diversity and for people to get out and see the city, and this is a very unique one. And it gives people exercise, too."
The vehicle cost $40,000 and is made by a company from the Netherlands. It was shipped to the U.S. on a boat and stays parked in an unassuming building on Calhoun Street in downtown Fort Worth.
On Thursday’s ride, we made two stops at bars while passengers stretched their legs and stopped in for a sip. Those who didn’t need a refill perched atop bike seats, chatting with passengers and waving gleefully at confused motorists.
Vicki said she hopes to purchase more beer bikes for Fort Worth if the idea catches on in DFW.
Tours are two hours long and cost about $25 per seat. Or, it’s $320 to rent the entire cycle pub during the week, $380 on the weekends.
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