New law allows beer on 14-seater bike bus


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.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.