Indy ‘pedal-powered pubs’ could face new requirements


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Pedal-powered pub businesses in Indianapolis may soon have to meet new requirements in order to keep cruising Circle City streets. A proposal introduced to the city-county council Monday aims to regulate the pedal-powered bicycles that transport up to 16 people. But, one pedal pub owner is concerned about this ordinance hindering the growth of his business.

The proposal is co-sponsored by councilors Jeff Miller (R)-District 16 and Zach Adamson (D)-District 17. Miller said he has gotten many noise complaints from residents who live along the pedal-powered pub routes.

Matt Schiffler said he’s accustomed to disruptions from people riding the pedal-powered pub.

“You can usually tell when they’re coming,” Schiffler said. “There’s alcohol involved. There are neighbors who are entitled to quiet enjoyment of their properties.”

The proposal would add pedal-powered pubs to the pedal cab ordinance. The large bicycles would be required to get a license and have a certain level of liability insurance. The companies would need to go through a license renewal process every year, which Miller said could help hold businesses accountable when it comes to noise complaints.

“A license creates a public process where if people feel like there are issues with a how a company is doing business, they have a right now to come in and speak to that on that annual renewal,” Miller said.

The owner of the Pickled Pedaler, one of the pedal-powered pub companies operating in Indianapolis, said the annual renewal requirement would put his business at risk.

“With this ordinance, we are going to be dying and going to be dying fast just because we can’t operate a business year to year,” said Dan Eliason, owner of the Pickled Pedaler. “We can’t possibly do that.  We are a brick and mortar business. We have 19 part-time employees and a full-time manager. We have a payroll. We are thinking five years in advance, just trying to keep up.”

“We don’t, in any way, want to hurt people’s business model,” Miller said. “It’s good to have a baseline requirement so everybody understand this is what the city expects you to do.”

Miller also said there are worries over liability for the city.

“When a private company is using those roads, especially to have 16 people ride on bicycle seats and drink, you want to make sure that we as citizens are completely covered from that type of situation,” Miller said. “There could be accidents. People could fall off. All kinds of things. So before that happened, before we have an issue, we thought it made sense to get that type of liability insurance taken care of.”

The two pedal-powered pub companies in Indianapolis – The Pickled Pedaler and The Handlebar Indy – say they have had liability insurance for years.

“It’s kind of like a bad solution looking for a problem,”Eliason said. “We just don’t quite understand that.”

Steve Lindsay, the owner of The Handlebar Indy, sent CBS4 this statement:

“We have reviewed the proposed regulations and believe they are a good step to ensure some basic requirements are met in order to operate a “pedal cab” as we would now be defined. The proposed regulations are really just an update to the existing pedal cab ordinance to include us. Fortunately, we started our business four years ago with an understanding of this ordinance and goal to adhere to it where possible, so we’ve largely been in compliance from the start. We did have a few questions and recommended tweaks that we’ve provided to the councilors and they’ve been exceedingly cooperative in making sure needless regulation stays out of the update.”

The proposal must go to committee before it makes it to the full city-county council.

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