First, there’s the sighting. Car traffic slows nearly to a halt as 15 people pedal furiously, but go nowhere fast. Their faces red – from exertion, of course – they wave merrily to no one in particular and scream “wooo” at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason.
Then there’s the reaction. Without fail, people in cars or on sidewalks either scowl and roll their eyes or they laugh and wave back.
These U-haul-sized, roving bicycle bars have become staples in Sacramento faster than tequila shots can get you drunk, one more sign of a newer, younger midtown. People either love them or hate them. I love them. But I know the haters dread the day alcohol will be allowed on board.
And it’s coming. Last weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown cracked open the proverbial bottle on that, signing legislation that would allow riders to imbibe on a pedicab as long as their city permits it and there’s a safety monitor – or sober driver – on board.
My guess is this will happen in Sacramento sooner rather than later. But don’t panic, curmudgeons. It won’t be that bad. Trust me.
When these bicycle bars first starting appearing in cities three or four years ago, most states didn’t allow people to drink while riding them. My former home state of Indiana was an outlier. While it’s conservative about most things, there’s no law against carrying open containers of alcohol in public.
So when our Handlebar got rolling, it was a free-for-all. Liquor. Beer. Wine. As long as riders didn’t bring said liquid in glass containers, they were free to drink and pedal as much as they wanted.
Some friends and I decided to take a spin one night. It was in late October, which in the Midwest means freezing temperatures and snow flurries. We sipped and rode. We ran into bars. We woooed. We sipped and rode some more. And guess what? We hauled almost as much alcohol off of the Handlebar as we hauled onto it. We didn’t even get drunk.
We proved the theory that operators of bicycle bars in many cities swear by: That people actually drink less because they don’t feel like they have to pound booze to stay on schedule and get the most for the money they spent to rent the bicycle bar. Other states have started figuring this out and they also have become more lenient.
So drink up. Or at the very least lighten up. Sacramento’s brew bikes, it appears, are just getting started.