Although drinking and driving is still illegal, a city ordinance allowing drinking and riding went into effect on Friday, allowing Sacramentans to consume alcohol on beer bikes.
Before the change, Sacramento beer bike services transported bar hoppers from one location to another, but no alcohol was allowed on board. After the Legislature opened the door last year for consumption on beer bikes, the City Council in May voted to allow riders to do so in Sacramento.
Andre Yoshida, who was visiting Sacramento from Boston, said he had long-standing plans to ride the Sac Brew Bike on Friday. However, when Yoshida heard that alcohol is now allowed on board, he stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up some ice cold beer to drink during his group’s 5 p.m. ride.
“We wanted to do the bike anyway, and then we saw that this was the first day for bringing on beer,” Yoshida said, proudly holding up his India pale ale. Other riders on Yoshida’s tour were drinking Sapporo beer.
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Chris Ferren-Cirino, co-owner of Sac Brew Bike, said his business has received multiple calls per day over the last few weeks from people asking about the new policy.
“We’ve gotten five calls today asking when beer can come out,” Ferren-Cirino said. He predicted that word would spread quickly and that an increasing number of customers would begin bringing alcohol to the tour. “It’s going to take time for people to understand what’s going on, to figure out that beer on the bike is legal, what the protocols are, what they can bring, etc.”
Customers will be restricted to a few beers apiece, Ferren-Cirino said, and glass bottles are not allowed. The business has also created internal rules to make sure that riders are safe and secure, he said.
The Legislature last year unanimously passed Senate Bill 530 by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento. Under the law, passengers can drink beer and wine on pedicabs so long as the vehicle is staffed with a driver and safety monitor who has been certified by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Riders must supply their own drinks, which cannot be consumed off the bike.
Under Sacramento’s ordinance, each rider can drink a maximum of 36 ounces of beer – less than 7 percent alcohol by volume – or 18 ounces of wine. Riders cannot consume liquor on board.
The law only pertains to four-wheel pedicabs, meaning Sac Brew Bike and Sacramento’s Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, the only two licensed four-wheel pedicab businesses in the city.
On June 1, Sac Brew Bike posted on Facebook about beer being legal on the bike beginning in July, a post which was liked by over 450 people and shared by 90 others. People commented about how the new policy is a “game changer,” writing that they planned to reserve spots immediately.
Jason Blessinger, co-owner of Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, said he and his business partner worked with Pan on SB 530. Blessinger said he’s excited about the opportunities that the bill, as well as the local ordinance, have opened up for pedicabs, adding that customers had already indicated their plans to bring alcohol on board Friday night.
In addition to the standard bar-hopping tour, Off the Chain holds events for businesses and children, intentionally leaving the words “beer” and “brew” out of its name. Though Blessinger said that the ability to bring alcohol on board will add to customers’ experiences, he said that the bus tour is “not a booze cruise.”
“We don’t want people to be going to venues and drinking five or six beers, and then drinking five or six beers on our bike,” Blessinger said. “We’re trying to highlight craft beers and wines in the region. We limit how much they can consume; we limit where we go. We’re an avenue to drive people to different locations and restaurants to highlight what’s going on in downtown Sacramento right now.”