The big red quadricycles transporting riders between bars in Madison’s downtown could soon be allowed to carry beer on board under a proposed policy change that the mayor has previously blocked.
A Wisconsin state statute that went into effect in February allows commercial quadricycles in the state to permit riders to have up to three cans of beer per person on board the quadricycle. However, the statute allows municipalities to opt out of the statute if they so choose, a move Mayor Paul Soglin has pushed for the city.
“I find something incompatible to using your feet to drive a cycle while consuming beer,” Soglin said at a Transit and Parking Commission meeting Wednesday.
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Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, proposed an alternate ordinance to allow pedalers to have two beers instead of three along with other proposed alterations.
Linda Besser, owner of Capitol Pedaler, said allowing passengers to consume alcohol on board the quadricycle would enhance the experience visitors are looking for from commercial quadricycles.
“We are a tourism attraction. We have been compared to the San Francisco trolley for Madison,” Besser said.
The quadricycle requires eight people to operate the bike, something she said makes it necessary for pedalers to maintain a level of sobriety for the two-hour, two-mile ride that stops at taverns and restaurants along the route.
All passengers are required to sign a waiver that includes a behavior section to prevent belligerent or obnoxious behavior, Besser said.
“As law enforcement, we knew people could generally drink a beer per hour and be OK to drive, so we figure they could at least maneuver a bike at one beer an hour,” she said.
In addition to restricting the amount of alcohol each passenger is allowed to bring on board, the ordinance Verveer proposed requires a second employee to be present. It would also require all employees be licensed as taxi drivers in Madison and licensed bartenders.
Verveer also proposed increasing fees for commercial quadricycles to allow alcohol on board, as the privilege should benefit the city.
“In the four years that Capitol Pedaler has been in operation, much of their operation has been in the core downtown area. I have received nothing but compliments about the amenity they provide to the community. I have heard nothing in the way of complaints,” he said.
City Council will take up the final decision on the proposed ordinance in their April 29 meeting, but Soglin can still veto the decision. If approved, the ordinance would take effect in early May.
Soglin also addressed concerns about taxi cab regulations relating to ride-share companies Lyft and Uber in the meeting.
He said the licensing process the city has for taxi services allows for accommodation so there is service at all hours. He also said it also gives passengers a sense of security knowing that they are being driven by a certified driver in an insured vehicle.
“This is not the Wild West,” Soglin said. “Uber and Lyft refuse to meet these standards and to date refuse to respect Madison Ordinance, choosing to muscle their way into the Madison market.”
Correction: This article previously used a trademarked photo and name. We regret the error.