For the past five years, the popular 16-seater cycle bars known as Pedal Pubs and a handful of other names, have ferried pub-crawl groups around Twin Cities bar-hopping-hot-spots, including Northeast with its many popular bars and new tap rooms.
A group led by Northeast resident Matt Peterson has been leading a campaign to get city leaders to increase regulation of Pedal Pubs that can be a source of annoyance in the city’s neighborhoods. He started a Facebook page called “I hate the Pedal Pub,” which had 2,495 likes as of July 24.
Peterson’s group is also responsible for the “Neighbors Against Pedal Pubs” yard signs that started appearing in Northeast yards this spring.
Members of Peterson’s group recently met with city licensing officials to seek more enforcement of Pedal Pub ordinances dealing with noise, littering and traffic violations.
“Their response was that they were looking to educate the [Pedal Pub] business, not bury the business in fines,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he was told that complaints regarding cycle bars should be go through Minneapolis 311 and that the city would continue a dialogue with cycle bar companies regarding compliance with city ordinances.
Grant Wilson, the manager of business licenses for the City of Minneapolis, attended the meeting with Peterson’s group.
“The meeting went very well and the residents really appreciated the time,” Wilson said. “They found that we had been doing more enforcement and monitoring than they thought we had.”
On July 18, Wilson also attended a meeting with the people behind Pedal Pubs and the Traveling Tab, another cycle bar company, to express concerns raised at the previous meeting.
“[The companies] want to be good neighbors and want their industry to succeed,” Wilson said. “Now both sides are kind of on the same page.”
David Fink, who has lived in Northeast for two years, said the Pedal Pubs often have noisy and obnoxious patrons.
“It just seems like a non-stop amateur hour,” he said. “Where I am, there’s a lot of kids around and it’s just not a good look.”
Eric Olson, a managing partner at PedalPub, downplayed the online opposition to his business and said that his cycle bars are mostly greeted positively.
“Aggressive incidents are rare,” Olson said. “On occasion, someone may curse, flip the bird, or shout. We have seen one incident of someone throwing a firecracker, and one of trying to run us off the road.”
Olson said all these incidences have been reported to the police.
“We have invited those who have contacted us to meet and discuss their issues but this outreach has so far been refused,” he said. “We will always keep the door open, though.”
Olson said that Pedal Pubs “are invited to stop at all of the establishments we visit in Northeast by their owners.”
As for the company’s economic impact in the area, Olson said a “conservative estimate,” on a per-season basis, was $120,000 per Pedal Pub.
Olson said he takes complaints seriously and has reacted accordingly, restricting Sunday hours, never operating past 10 p.m., changing routes and reducing noise.
City Council member Kevin Reich (Ward 1) said the recently enacted city ordinances regarding cycle bars have been effective.
The ordinances include new licensing requirements, Pedal Pub inspections, owners carrying $2 million of insurance, private property assembly points, a 10 p.m. cut-off of service and tight regulations on noise and litter.
With the new rules in place, Reich said complaints have gone down.
“Not to say there isn’t more work to be done,” he said, “But [we’re] engaging and figuring it out. In terms of those directly impacted, we’ve been in direct contact with them.”
River Liquor Store, at Lowry Avenue NE and Marshall Street NE, leases its parking lot as, per city ordinance, a private property Pedal Pub pick up and drop off site.
Tom Biernat, who works at the liquor store, said there have been “no issues” with the arrangement and that it was clean and quiet.
He said it’s “not a big money maker for us” from a retail point of view, and that while the store sells some beer to Pedal Pub groups, most people bring their own.
Ginny Herman, community coordinator at the Dangerous Man Brewing Co. Taproom, 1300 2nd Ave. NE, said she understands complaints about Pedal Pubs bringing out-of-towners into the neighborhood and the drunkenness that can occur.
Overall, however, she said Pedal Pub groups are no different than party bus groups and pub-crawlers who go by foot.
Herman said: “It is bringing in business.”