Nate Olsen wants to spin his pub-crawling, pedal-powered business into a higher gear by allowing riders to drink beer as they cycle around town.
"I'm just asking the city of Medford to look at the open-container law and allow consumption of alcohol on Pint Rider for our tours," said Olsen, owner of Pint Rider.
His colorful trolley with a canopy made its debut last year in Medford, and he has asked City Council to amend its open-container law so riders can consume beer, wine and cider. Riders can currently go into pubs and buy a brew, but they can't open growlers on the trolley and consume the contents.
Olsen said his trolley, built in Bend, has been popular, particularly with women.
Bend, Portland and some cities in California allow the consumption of alcohol on the party bikes — or pedicabs, as they are called — while they journey from pub to pub, buying beer or wine on the way.
Unlike a car or bicycle, the riders can't steer or brake the trolley. All they do is party and pedal to help power a vehicle that has an electric assist to keep the vehicle going about 5 mph under a full load. A company driver controls the trolley at all times.
Eric Mitton, senior assistant city attorney, said Medford laws allow the consumption of alcohol in limousines or on a wine trolley.
Mitton said hard alcohol consumption would not be allowed, and he said he hasn't heard of problems in other communities where it's allowed.
"As a practical matter, I haven't heard a lot of downsides," Mitton said.
He provided the council with a sample change to its code, including a requirement that the driver not consume any alcohol while driving the pedicab.
Councilor Michael Zarosinski said he wanted the city to restrict trolleys to commercial areas of the city. He also wondered if there was a way to deal with riders who get out of hand.
"If they're unruly or rowdy, is there some way for the city to address it?" he asked.
Olsen said he's on a first-name basis with bar and restaurant owners.
"If they're getting '86'd' or cut off, they would let us know," he said.
Olsen said he encourages his customers to drink plenty of water as they cruise around town.
Medford police also wanted to make sure passengers weren't carrying glass containers that could fall on streets and create a hazard.
As a result, drinking containers would have to be made of plastic, metal or silicone. Passengers could fill their cups from glass containers only when the pedicab is stationary.
The operator of a pedicab will have to have general liability insurance that covers $1 million.
The Pint Rider's cycling machine, a Cycle Pub built in Bend, ferries groups of up to 15 people on custom two-hour tours. A two-hour tour costs $300. Spread across 15 people, that's $20 per person.
Olsen said that when he opened his trolley business last year, he planned to seek a change in the city's open-container law. He said he hopes the city will allow his customers to drink on the trolley by spring.
— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.