It Just Might Work: Pedal-powered bar

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Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 4.07.18 PMby Eric Ginsburg

Maybe it’s because we had just been talking about the massive Pride celebration he would be attending the next morning in New York City, but when I saw the video of my friend John — standing up pedaling and pumping his fist in the air, Mardi Gras beads swinging from his neck as he yelled with joy — I joked that he looked like a one-man gay pride parade. That’s how much fun he was having.

We were sitting at a hip new pizza place in Durham, one where they actually give you scissors to cut your pizza and where the cashier recommended the reindeer sausage (I, of course, rightly took her advice). As we ate on the patio, John and a few other mutual friends filled me in on the details of their pedal-powered bike-bar adventure and how it worked.

Picture a paddle boat but on the road, with one person steering. And picture a lot of beer, either in a cooler, on draft aboard the vehicle or at various stops. Participants pedal at their leisure, sometimes quitting entirely, as some of my friends had, and at other times carrying the team seemingly singlehandedly.

I haven’t taken one of these human-powered, mobile bars yet, though I get the sense that the camaraderie of the shared public-drinking experience is akin to tubing the Dan River. There are rumors of somebody starting such a business in downtown Greensboro, possibly moving between the three downtown breweries and a potential fourth brewpub one on the way.

These things exist in Asheville, Durham, Raleigh and elsewhere, and there’s no reason one couldn’t succeed in Winston-Salem, too. Maybe it would start at Mission Pizza on Trade Street and hit Small Batch on its way to Fourth Street and Foothills. I could even see one making its way from bar to bar in the bike lane on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro. Paging Ryan Saunders and Watts Dixon.

The Durham outfit is called Biker Bar NC, and up to 14 pedal-pushers face inwards towards the bar and bring their own beer on the tour, which starts and ends at Bull City Burger & Brewery. It’s as if a team of kids from Guilford College, Elsewhere and Hoots teamed up to reinvent the party bus.

I’m hazy on the specifics of how these vehicles get around existing alcohol laws, other than knowing that the driver doesn’t partake and that plenty of cities seem to have figured out the legality. It should be easy enough to copy language from an ordinance, assemble one of these booze cruisers and get the show on the road (literally).

A friend from Greensboro vouched for the beer pedicab in Raleigh, where his cart actually had its own beer on draft and made an almost complete loop. And the video of that birthday party on wheels in downtown Durham was enough to convince me of the novelty’s brilliance. Fair warning: I’ll be the guy slacking on his pedaling responsibilities, mostly because I’d want to draw out the experience as long as possible.