If you thought there weren't enough different vehicles in downtown Columbia, just hang on. Patrons of The District could be seeing “pedal trolleys” as soon as Nov. 16.
Pedal Pub is a franchise that began operations in Minneapolis in 2007 and has since expanded to over 50 locations in North America, according to the company’s website. Columbia's franchise will be the first Pedal Pub location in Missouri, and Kyle Bradley, owner of Pedal Pub Columbia, plans to start out with two trolleys.
The trolleys have five pedaling seats facing inward on each side, a bench on the back, and the driver's seat and steering wheel in the front. The trolleys can carry 16 passengers, but a city of Columbia ordinance passed Monday night restricts the trolleys to 14 passengers at a time.
According to the ordinance passed Monday, the trolleys can operate between Park Avenue and Elm Street, and between Providence Road and College Avenue. The trolleys can only operate on roads with posted speed limits of 25 m.p.h. or less but can use intersections with speed limits above 25 m.p.h.
If you're of legal age, you can drink on them, too. The ordinance passed Monday amended the city's open container ban to exempt pedal trolley riders.
Still, alcohol hasn't been the only attraction for trolley riders. Pedal Pub expanded to Bloomington, Indiana, this September. Due to Bloomington city regulations, alcohol is not allowed on board those trolleys. Ashton Wischmeier, managing partner of Pedal Pub Bloomington, said the franchise in their city has not yet seen any negative effects from alcohol restrictions.
“We had no desire for this to be a bar. I haven’t seen any groups not grinning from ear to ear at the end,” Wischmeier said.
Wischmeier said his customers are usually an even split between people under 30 and corporate professionals. Recently, companies have been using the trolleys as team-building activities. He said one company rented out a trolley for the day so employees could pedal in the parking lot on their breaks.
Bradley plans to use the Logboat Brewing Company parking lot, located at 504 Fay St., as the start and end point for tours. The trolleys will also be parked there when not in use.
Though there are no set tour routes yet, Bradley said he has ideas for stops at different bars and restaurants for themed tours. He said he was working on a plan for a “brunch tour.”
Bradley said he plans to run the trolleys in all weather conditions that aren't dangerous.
Before riding, passengers must fill out a safety waiver where they can opt out of wearing a helmet. Even if passengers opt out, helmets will still be available on the trolley if they change their minds, Bradley said.
Pedal Pub Columbia will provide drivers with a Class E driver’s licenses. Bradley said he will also require drivers to get an alcoholic beverage control license and learn downtown streets.
Bradley said the price per person for two-hour trolley tours in Columbia will fluctuate depending on day of the week and whether you're booking the whole trolley for private tours. He predicted the price per person between Sunday and Wednesday would be between $30 and $35. That would go up to $40 to $45 between Thursday and Saturday. Pedal Pub Bloomington has a similar price schedule with elevated rates on Friday and Saturday, Wischmeier said.
Reservations can be made at Pedal Pub Columbia’s website.
Supervising editor is Brendan Crowley.