Sacramento Bee

Bill would allow party bike riders to sip suds while pedaling

September 27, 2015

By Tony Bizjak

Drinking and driving is, of course, illegal. But partaking while pedaling might soon be OK.

Sacramento state Sen. Richard Pan has a bill on the governor’s desk that would allow customers on pub-crawl bikes to sip some beer while pedaling between stops. City officials would have to give their OK first, Pan said.

Pan’s bill, SB 530, is mainly a sober effort to deal with a variety of regulatory issues involving the young brew bike industry in California.

Brew bikes, popping up in Sacramento and a few other cities, offer the classic pub-crawl experience with some calorie-burning thrown in. Groups rent the 15-passenger bike and pedal it together at just better than walking pace to various beer gardens and pubs. They share the street with cars. A guide/chaperone does the steering and braking.

Pan said he wrote the bill after talking with Sacramento city attorney officials, who said they’d like the state to provide some regulatory structure that gives cities more say in how the businesses can be operated.

Sac Brew Bike owner Chris Ferren likes the Pan plan as well. His company does tours in midtown Sacramento, stopping at places such as Tank House, Low Brau, Biergarten and Alley Katz. But Ferren says customers say they would like to be able to imbibe on board, which currently is not legal.

If the governor OKs the bill, will Sacramento allow beer on the bikes?

Sacramento police spokesman Doug Morse says that’s up to city officials. “We just want everyone to be safe and have fun. We wouldn’t want anyone to overindulge.”

Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents midtown, is inclined to say yes: “As long as people behave themselves, it should be an enhancement. We may put extra rules on them, though.”

Ferren said he thinks his company can responsibly handle customers. He envisions people drinking only enough to keep them lightly lubricated between stops. “We really want people to go inside (the pubs).”

The company already imposes safety and behavior rules, and watches out for clients who are drinking too much.

“We have a good thing going, and want to make sure we can keep it going,” he said. “We’ve ended tours prematurely. You’ll be removed if you’re too intoxicated.”

Traffic school for cyclists

The city may soon have another decision to make about cyclists. Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a law allowing cities to set up “bicycle traffic school” for cyclists cited for breaking certain vehicle code sections.

Cyclists who attend traffic school would pay a reduced fine. The goal, cycling advocates say, is to teach cyclists about proper biking behavior, rather than simply fine scofflaws.

Sacramento police, who likely would have a say over a local program, had no comment last week. The law goes into effect next year.

Jim Brown of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates said he likes the idea of a lower fine, but hopes police won’t use the law to cite more cyclists.