Fayetteville to consider pedal carriage ordinance

Photo courtesy of Pedal Pub, which offers franchise opportunities through a partnership with bike manufacturer Fietscafe.

Fayetteville could soon clear the way for pedal taverns, bars-on-wheels, party bikes or whatever you want to call them.

City staff have proposed an ordinance to allow pedal carriage businesses to operate within a specific area in town.

The idea came after a local entrepreneur last year asked what the rules are for operating a pedal carriage in the downtown area. Such a law does not exist in Fayetteville, so the city attorney’s office has since been working to draft an ordinance to address the question.

A pedal carriage is a non-motorized bicycle-type vehicle with four or more wheels that’s used to transport passengers. The passengers typically provide the power needed to move the vehicle by pedaling, but an electric-assisted motor is sometimes used to help generate speed, especially in hilly areas.

Devin Howland, the city’s director of economic vitality, said the recent rise in popularity of pedal carriages has caused policymakers to pause and consider several factors because of the unique nature of the vehicles.

The carriages usually weigh over 2,000 pounds, but don’t usually reach speeds of over 12 miles per hour, he said.

“Is it a bike? Is it a car? How does it interface with traffic, and pedestrians?” Howland asked. “How does it not impede these other things while sharing the road?”

Howland said staff have reviewed a broad range of existing ordinance from across the country, and have come up with a proposal that would establish rules of operation, as well as a zone of operation and an application process to individually approve businesses that would like to operate in Fayetteville.

The proposed language states that pedal carriages must be operated by a driver at least 21 years of age who is an employee of a company that has obtained a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and a Pedal Carriage Drivers Permit from the police department. The ordinance also requires the permit holder to carry at least $1 million in general liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage. The rules also include numerous safety parameters, including required enhanced braking systems.

Because of their size, pedal carriages would not be allowed on sidewalks, trails or any closed streets.

The proposed area of operation would extend north from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to North Street, and be bounded roughly from Mission Boulevard and College Avenue to the edges of the University of Arkansas campus. Two additional routes were also included to allow pedal carriage operators to access other areas of interest outside the downtown zone.

Consumption of alcohol would only be allowed on the pedal carriages if the city eventually establishes its entertainment district. The topic was first discussed in 2019, but was tabled by the City Council in September to give staff more time to further fine tune the proposal.

Howland said pedal carriages operate successfully throughout the country with no alcohol consumption, but staff will likely revisit the idea in the future if the council establishes an entertainment district. Until then, he said the local entrepreneur who first presented the idea plans to partner with local businesses to give “pedal tours” of various bars and breweries in Fayetteville.

The council’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposal. The full council will likely take up the ordinance in March.

Proposed zone of operation

Source: City of Fayetteville