Elliot Storey with his pedal pub, a bike just over 6 feet wide with 15 seats for passengers and spots for a host and driver. Chance Viles/ American Journal

WESTBROOK— A local man is looking to bring his Portland Party Bike business to the city to conduct tours and host events that could allow alcohol to be brought and served onboard.

“We would ideally operate at Rock Row when that is set, but in the meantime, the New Gorham Road area around Main Street since that is the scenic area with all of the establishments,” Elliot Storey said to the City Council at its July 15 meeting.

City Council looked at plans at the meeting but did not take any action. There is no specific date set for when the pedal-pub will be brought before the council again. Instead, the city is reaching out to the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operation to make sure alcohol was even allowed on the vehicle before moving forward with creating an ordinance that would allow the business to operate.

The pedal pub, seen in other cities in the country but nowhere in Maine, is a large bike with a table and seating running down the sides. The idea is that 10-15 patrons could sit on the bike and go from destination to destination, with an official host providing entertainment and a dedicated driver steering. While Storey has his bike, he must now work with city officials to find a way to make the bike work, navigating complicated public consumption liquor laws and vehicle regulations.

The bike would have 15 seats for passengers, as well as space for a host and a driver. The majority of patrons would have pedals so they can help propel the bike, but would have no control over driving or steering it.

“We do not fall outside of what is considered a bicycle,” Storey said. “It would take a regular fee, and we could not be hailed by people on the street.”

The chairs would have seat belts, and the bike would be equipped with turn signals.

Storey has been working on his vehicle for a few years. Initially, it had a motor, but Storey removed it to avoid motor vehicle regulations.

Still, Storey, as well as city officials, are looking at the legality of the bike, both in regards to its presence on the street, as well as the possibility of patrons drinking on the bike.

“I met with Mr. Storey on the afternoon of July 23. He showed me the ‘party bike’ and went over the mechanics, accessories and plans for its operation,” Police Chief Janine Roberts said in an email that same day. “While it is Mr. Storey’s interpretation of the Maine motor vehicle statutes that the party bike fits the definition of a bicycle, the city is still researching all applicable laws to make a determination one way or the other. Until a formal answer from the city, should Mr. Storey operate the party bike in Westbrook, Westbrook Police officers will only take enforcement action if the mechanics and operations of the party bike or the actions of its passengers impede the flow of traffic or appear to be a threat to public safety.”

“My question is how will they get around the drinking in public,” Councilor Brendan Rielly said at the council meeting.

Storey’s idea is to register the bike with a livery license, which is the same designation as a taxi, Storey said, and the bike would operate under the same legality as a limousine or party bus where patrons can consume alcohol.

Alcohol would not necessarily be served on the bicycle, but passengers would be allowed to bring their own, with employees being trained in handling alcohol and intoxication regardless, Storey said.

The bike could also double as a non-drinking attraction, offering non-alcoholic tours or even spin and exercise classes.

“We must consult BABLO. Maybe this is a good idea, but I am not thrilled. … I am nervous about being the first community (in Maine) to do this,” Councilor Ann Peoples said.

Rielly and Peoples also questioned the safety of the bike, considering the proposed streets of operation can get quite busy, and the bike, being 6½ feet wide, may have a difficult time making it down the street if cars are parked along the sidewalk.

Councilors Gary Rairdon and Victor Chau voiced support for the idea, seeing it as a unique business that could draw more tourism to Westbrook, while showcasing existing businesses, art and the River Walk.

“I love the idea. …. I’ve seen this and it’s neat, the people were having fun and I didn’t see anyone that was really drunk. … Casco Bay has their (BayCycle Cruise) which is the same thing but on the water.  I see the concerns, but I am sure the first conversations then about that were nervous too. I have a lot of questions, but we should not give up on the idea,” Chau said.

There are no licensed pedal-pubs in Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, according to the official pedal pub website . Elm City Party Bike, based out of New Haven, Connecticut, bills itself as the “New England’s only pedal-powered bar & sightseeing tour experience.”

As far as the East Coast is concerned, the only other pedal-pubs are in Florida, with five bikes registered in the state.

“Charlotte, North Carolina, has one I saw. I said then, we need one,” Rairdon said. “I am envisioning Rock Row fully built out, with people riding this bike around there and over to the falls. … I would like to be the first community in Maine with this,” Rairdon said.

A side view of a pedal-pub being proposed to operate on the streets of Westbrook. Chance Viles/ American Journal

 

 

 

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.