They’re known as pedal pubs and these 14-seat, four-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicles the size of a minibus are a common sight in the entertainment districts of some American cities. But in Wisconsin, home state of brewing giant Miller, passengers on pedal pubs have been unable to have a beer while travelling — until now.
Last month Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill legalising beer consumption on pedal pubs.
With state capital Madison currently in the grip of winter (it’s -16°C there at the time of writing) there won’t be any pedal pubs celebrating New Year in a few hours, but when Madison’s ‘Capital Pedaler’ reopens on St Patrick’s Day to shuttle revellers round town, they will be able to bring their beer.
“It’s going to add to the fun,” Linda Besser, one of the owners of the Capitol Pedaler told the Wisconsin State Journal. “It’s such a novelty pedaling around Downtown. If you can have a drink, it adds to the novelty.”
But not everyone thinks beer and bikes should be mixed, even though the law requires a driver who remains sober and passengers will only be allowed to drink up to 36 fluid ounces, just under two UK pints, of beer they've brought themselves.
Local authorities can opt out of the state law and maintain the current soft-drinks-only rule. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said he intends to introduce a proposal early next year to keep Madison’s pedal pubs ‘dry’.
Alderman Mike Verveer, who represents Downtown on the Madison City Council disagrees.
He said: “My position is this: I believe that we should allow pedal pubs the opportunity to prove themselves in Madison.”
He said the Capitol Pedaler had been a model business. “I’ve known each of those women for years, and I think the world of them,” he said, referring to the company’s owners, Linda Besser and Sandy Theune.
Besser and Theune are both retired Madison police who started the business about three years ago. Besser said that business had doubled every year the since and she expects the change in the law allowing beer on board will bring another boost.
“We’re looking forward to being able to offer that,” she said.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.