Flint, MI — The City of Flint might be getting a pedal pub downtown, according to ordinances brought before Flint City Council.
A pedal pub—also called bicycle pub, cycle pub, pedal trolley or similar—is a vehicle powered by riders’ pedaling and is used to transport its occupants to bars in an area, allowing them to drink alcohol as they go.
To bring cycle pubs to Flint, council has to approve altering current city ordinances that prohibit public alcohol consumption and possession of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and three such amendments related to those changes were shared at the body’s special affairs committee on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023.
The proposed ordinances combine to allow for consumption of alcohol by a passenger traveling on a “commercial quadricycle,” defining a commercial quadricycle as a vehicle with at least six seats and is propelled by human power (pedals).
The proposed changes would allow pedal pubs to operate between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and put stipulations on the vehicles’ operators and passengers.
For operators, requirements include not operating the pubs under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol and not impeding the flow of traffic in their loading and unloading passengers.
For passengers, riders are not allowed to engage in disorderly conduct or possess or transport “alcoholic liquor that was purchased from a commercial establishment after the start of the trip.” Though they are allowed to have beer, wine, spirits and mixed drinks on board the vehicle.
Flint City Council President Allie Herkenroder told Flint Beat she’s not sure what brought up the idea to change ordinances, and no one from Mayor Neeley’s administration was available for comment as of press time to elaborate on where the pedal pub idea arose from.
As stood during council’s meeting on Monday, however, some members remain divided on whether or not the idea is good for Flint.
Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said he was concerned about the business aspect of the pubs and questioned whether cycle pub businesses would pay proper taxes to the city.
“I’m over people coming into this town, stealing its assets and not paying its fair share,” Pfeiffer said. He said the city needs to be stricter on how it collects taxes from businesses and people who work in Flint—both from the potential cycle pub and other businesses.
Flint’s Chief Financial Officer Rob Widigan responded that there are currently people and business that don’t pay income taxes in Flint like they’re supposed to. He said he’s working with the treasurer to improve collections enforcement on personal and commercial income tax.
“It is an enforcement issue,” Widigan told council.
The proposed ordinance language also mentions that a commercial quadricycle’s license could be suspended or revoked if owners fail to pay fees or monies to the city.
Councilman Eric Mays said he thinks everyone should be able to drink in public, even outside of a cycle pub, though the proposed ordinance language does retain current prohibitions around drinking in “public streets, parks or other public places” aside from commercial quadricylces.
Herkenroder told Flint Beat she would love to have the city consider a “Social District,” or a boundaried common area in a city within which people can buy and consume alcoholic beverages.
Having a pedal pub in the city might allow for more changes, like a social district, in the future, Herkenroder said.
“I think that this is a step in that direction,” she told Flint Beat.
Herkenroder also said she agrees with Pfeiffer on the importance of local businesses paying taxes.
“People are just concerned about making sure that Flint dollars stay in Flint and that we’re continually reinvesting in community,” she said.
At the council meeting, Councilwoman Eva Worthing noted she supported the measure, and Councilwoman Tonya Burns added the she thought the pedal pub was a great idea because it will bring people to downtown Flint to spend money at local businesses.
“It’s nice to have things downtown that you don’t have to go to Detroit for, and this is one of those attractions,” she said.
While council ultimately voted to send the ordinances back to legislative committee, Herkenroder told Flint Beat they just need a bit more time to discuss the changes. She said they will also use the extra time to see what other communities are doing that have pedal pubs.
“Being in legislative committee, we’ll have more opportunity to actually sit down and talk a lot about it,” she said.
Council’s next legislative committee meeting will be on March 8 at Flint City Hall.