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PedalPub, a Minnesota-based bicycle company that tours local bars in several U.S. cities, is appealing the city of Chicago's decision to deny them a business license.
The issue stems over the PedalPub vehicle itself, which features a cabana, tapped keg (currently filled with such beverages as root beer, but not alcohol), and seating for 16 passengers. Passengers and the vehicle's driver pedal the vehicle through the city's streets while drinking brews from the barrel of beer onboard and making the occasional stop at local bars.
The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection denied the company a license because the vehicle does not meet certain requirements pertaining to city's charter bus law. Under current laws, a "charter sightseeing tour operator" requires that the vehicle be propelled by a motor.
"We’re not doing sight-seeing tours," said PedalPub city manager Matt Graham, who has driven the PedalPub bike in Minnesota for several years.
"They need to take a look at our true model. The requirements don’t demand that we change the bikes. They need to see it from my prospective. The last thing we wanted to do was involve lawyers, frankly," he said.
PedalPub bikes do not have motors and are entirely self-propelled. The company, whose bikes can now be found in several major U.S. cities, including Houston, St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Nashville, believes the BACP's definition of touring vehicles to be too narrow and points to more conventionally built bikes and segway tour as existing exceptions to the BACP's policy.
PedalPub currently offers free bar crawls from Fulton Market to bars around the Ukranian Village and Wicker Park. Albeit a great promotional opportunity, manager Matt Graham says the company is bleeding green and was hoping to have two or three vehicles in operation by this point.
The company applied for its license back in February, and it took 25 days to hear back for their current appeal, according to Graham.
"Chicago deserves a smile," says Graham. "We would have loved to drop this case yesterday. We just don't want to squander the entire season."