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Should beer bikes be banned from Amsterdam’s city center?

DutchAmsterdam.nl — The municipality of Amsterdam is researching whether it is legally possible to ban so-called ‘beer bikes‘ from its city center, a spokesperson for alderman Hans Gerson has announced.

A beer bike is a pedal-powered bar at which ten to seventeen people are served beer while pedaling through the city. One person, the actual driver, is not allowed to drink. Nevertheless beer bikes have been involved in a number of recent accidents.

Two weeks ago, three women were wounded when their beer bike tried to negotiate a tunnel that was too low for the vehicle.

This past weekend a beer bike near Central Station suddenly veered left, causing a motor rider to fall.

Drink, Drive, or Both?

According to Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool Gerson wonders whether drinking is allowed actually allowed on the party bike.

Legally, anyone who drives a bike is not allowed to drink. However, on a beer bike the passengers also peddle, and that’s where the rub is.

In some parts of town the use of alcohol on public streets is forbidden — reason why the beer bikes can not peddle through, say, the Red Light District.

The city of Delft has banned the bike from its town center for the same reason.

However, Amsterdam’s Centrum borough, the district most popular with the drinking bicyclists, sees no reason for a prohibition.

“Our lawyers see no problem,” says Ton Boon, spokesperson for the Centrum Borough. “Police will act if an when necessary.”

Rental firms: Beer bikes are safe

Owners of several beer bike rental companies are upset at the commotion.

Ad Karsten of Partyfiets.nl says his company pays a lot of attention to safety. Partyfiets.nl provides its own driver, and has talked not only with Centrum borough officials but also with safety experts. In addition, only 30 liters or beer are provided per rental.

Henk van Laar, of fietscafe.nl says you can legally drink while sitting at the beer bike bar. You just can not drink next to the vehicle, in the public roads.”

Van Laar says his setup has been checked by police, and was deemed to be safe.

“It’s not for nothing that we also rent the beer bike to police in Amsterdam.”

Steering clear

Meanwhile Amsterdammers tend to steer clear of the contraption.

Karin Wolfs, the motor rider who fell in her encounter with a beer bike near Central Station, did not — and has a broken finger to show for it.

“It is an unguided projectile,” she says of the beer bike. “The road there slopes downward but the drunk men increased their efforts by pedaling harder. Who came up with the idea to drink beer while driving on public roads?”

Hans Gerson expects research into the issue to take about two weeks.

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This post was last updated: Sep. 25, 2011