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Party Bike Measures Delayed Amid Council Members' Questions

city hall
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville City Hall

A Louisville Metro Council committee is delaying a vote to allow alcoholic beverages on party bikes.

Committee members on Tuesday brought questions and concerns regarding the proposal to the group's regularly scheduled meeting and opted for more time before votes are cast.

"We just want to get it right," said Cheri Bryant Hamilton, chair of the Labor and Economic Development committee.

Party bikes, or quadricycles, are four-wheeled, bicycle-like contraptions. They crawl along the East Market Street district in Louisville, transporting revelers from bar to bar.

A pair of proposed measures, if approved, would designate certain areas of the city in which passengers on specially licensed quadricycles could carry and consume alcoholic beverages.

Council president David Yates is sponsoring both ordinances. They come in the wake of changes in state law permitting alcohol aboard the bikes.

Yates said quadricycles are an effective means to "harness the tourism" in downtown.

Under the proposed local ordinances, any owner of a commercial quadricycle must first obtain a city permit before seeking a required license to allow alcoholic beverages on board. Those quadricycles could then operate in designated areas where booze is allowed.

Much of the questioning from council members Tuesday centered on where and how areas would be designated for quadricycles.

Brandon Coan, a District 8 Democrat, represents areas along Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue, where dozens of trendy bars are located. He's concerned about quadricycles backing up traffic.

"You can already be sitting in traffic on Bardstown Road with nowhere to go," he said. "I'm picturing this vehicle on a street like that and people frustrated that they can't get around it."

Under the proposals, city officials would have to approve routes before quadricycles take to the streets.

Robert Kirchdorfer, head of the city's codes and regulations department, said his crew would consult with various city agencies, including the police department, before approving any routes. He declined to say whether Bardstown Road is appropriate for a quadricycle route.

Scott Benningfield, a co-owner of Louisville's lone quadricycle operation, The Thirsty Pedaler, said allowing alcohol aboard the party bikes would be a boon for business.

He's lobbied state legislators for nearly five years on the issue. Under the state law approved in 2016, passengers on party bikes are allowed to bring their own booze aboard, but they have to drink out of plastic cups.

Under the council proposals, no alcohol would be sold on the bikes, and passengers are prohibited from bringing drinks from bars or restaurants aboard.

Benningfield said patrons of The Thirsty Pedaler contributed nearly $500,000 to local businesses in 2016.

"We expect to that to double as our traffic doubles," he said.

The council committee will reconvene next month to consider the measures.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.