Sacramento is planning to put the beer on beer bikes.
Following a new state law that now allows the practice, the city is crafting an ordinance that would permit riders on brew bikes to drink beer and wine on board. The law would only apply to four-wheel pedicabs, including Sacramento’s Off the Chain and Sac Brew Bike.
The City Council’s Law and Legislation Committee is scheduled to debate the ordinance Tuesday. If the committee gives its approval, the new law would go to the full City Council for a vote May 31.
Senate Bill 530, authored by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, applies to pedal-powered beer bikes with seating capacities of at least eight people. Local jurisdictions must adopt their own local ordinances that apply the new rules set by SB 530.
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Under the law, beer and wine can only be consumed on bikes staffed with a driver and safety monitor certified by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs program, according to a city staff report. Riders must bring their own beer and wine, and hard alcohol would not be allowed. Drinks cannot be taken off the bike.
Currently, Sacramento beer bike services operate as between-pub tours.
Amy Williams, a support services manager with the city’s Department of Public Works, said the city has spoken to beer bike operators about ensuring empty bottles and cans don’t end up in the street. The ordinance does not address trash, but it could in the future.
“If we start seeing beer bottles or glass in the street, we can always go back and regulate that,” she said. “It’s in (the bike operators’) best interest that they are good stewards of this new ordinance.
The bikes have become a frequent site in Sacramento, carrying large groups as they travel slowly though midtown, music blaring.
Sac Brew Bike passengers Helen and Randall Fairchild like the idea of allowing alcohol on the bikes.
“Being able to have a beer on the bike is what the whole experience is about,” Helen Fairchild said Saturday after a ride through midtown. She was not aware that you couldn’t have a beer on the bike before showing up earlier in the day.
Sac Brew Bike manager Matt See said he’s received inquiries from customers about “samples to sip on” while they ride. But driver Christian Freed said the bikes are working well as they are and said he was worried allowing alcohol on board might take business away from midtown bars the service visits.
“I like how it is,” he said. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
And then there’s the concern about the amount of alcohol being consumed.
“It would be a little bit more fun,” rider Marco Ochoa said, “but you wouldn’t get a break from drinking.”