Senate votes to allow pedal pubs in Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation to regulate commercial quadricycles in the state of Michigan.

Pedal pubs, as they are also known, are used for various activities, including bachelor or bachelorette parties, sightseeing tours, company team-building exercises, and other social gatherings.

Some pedal pubs already operate in Michigan. However, under current law, passengers are prohibited from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages because of the state’s open intoxication laws.

Senate Bill 165 would not allow alcohol to be sold or purchased on board a pedal pub, but would allow passengers to possess and consume alcohol on board. Importantly, there would be a zero tolerance policy for the driver (often called the pilot), meaning that person absolutely would not be allowed to possess or consume alcohol or operate the vehicle while intoxicated.

The bill also would require owners of pedal pubs to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability insurance.

“Pedal pubs are emerging as a fun and safe way to enjoy Pure Michigan,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who sponsored the legislation. “Residents and visitors from cities throughout Michigan, including Traverse City, are already enjoying quadricycles. Allowing passengers to bring their own beer, wine and alcohol adds to the experience and further contributes to our economy and tourism industry.”

Under the bill, local governments would have authority to pass ordinances to prohibit pedal pubs from operating on certain roads, and they would not be allowed on roads maintained by the Department of Transportation — i.e., any “I,” “U.S.” or “M” labeled roads.

Senate Bill 166, a companion measure sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, would define a commercial quadricycle and require that the vehicle meet the following criteria:
• Has fully operative pedals for propulsion entirely by human power;
• Has at least four wheels and is operated in a manner similar to a bicycle;
• Has at least six seats for passengers;
• Is designed to be occupied by a driver and powered either by passengers providing pedal power to the drive train of the vehicle or by a motor capable of propelling the vehicle in the absence of human power;
• Is used for commercial purposes;
• Is operated by the owner of the vehicle or an employee of the owner of the vehicle; and
• Must be operated by a licensed Michigan driver if the vehicle is equipped with a motor.

SBs 165 and 166 now advance to the House for consideration.

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