I should preface this post by being clear that I have not heard that anyone is thinking about bringing a bier bike to Seattle. However, after seeing a video of them in action in Europe, I was very curious if there were any reason why something this completely awesome could not roll around Seattle. So I inquired with the Washington Liquor Control Board.
The result? Well, I dunno. I think it’s possible, but there are some hurdles. However, my dreams of being served a beer while pedaling around our fair city have not been dashed! ENTREPRENEURS, LISTEN UP! This idea is gold.
My first thought was, Hey, if there can be party buses, why can’t there be a bicycle equivalent? But Anne Radford of the Washington State Liquor Control Board said that party buses are probably not similar enough to this plan to be compared. Apparently, these party buses cannot “sell” alcohol (but can serve it) and have to apply for permits as one-time, private banquet events for invited guests only.
Radford said that there does not seem to be a liquor license particularly matched for this venture, but there are laws on the books allowing for dinner train cars and tour boats to serve alcohol. If the bier bike were to follow a set path, only allow people to get on and off at set points and serve food, it would not be so different from these existing business models. It would, however, be an open-air vehicle, which could conflict with open container laws, but perhaps it is not so different from a Ride the Ducks party tour. Those exist, right?
There are some other public safety questions. For example, the bier bike would need to be able to prove the operators (a “driver” and a bartender) would be able to enforce liquor laws. Clearly, only people who are 21+ could get on. But how would you stop someone from jumping off with a beer in hand or handing a beer to someone on the street? I don’t actually think this would be a problem, but I also see that it could be difficult to prove you could control it. But not impossible.
“The WSLCB’s top priorities are public safety and ensuring Washington’s liquor and tobacco laws are followed,” said Radford. “These points I mentioned would have to be taken into account, and considered seriously when looking at such a venture.”
Maybe this is an idea that could partner with some area bars. Stops could be at bars, where patrons could use the restrooms, get on, get off. Or maybe a scaled-down version could just go up and down a single street, making something of a short loop and returning to the same spot. I don’t know.
So there you go. Anyone up for a challenge? If Lawrence, Kansas can do it, why can’t Seattle? I think the proposal is reasonable. The thing only goes a couple miles per hour, so it’s not like it is a menace to society. It would be a great way to celebrate bicycles and our region’s great beer tradition.
I want to pedal through Georgetown drinking a Georgetown Porter, and I want to pedal up Ballard Ave with a Hale’s.