Pedal Pubs: Minneapolis Water Attack Highlights Open Container Debate

The recent water gun attack by 6 people on a Minneapolis pedal pub has brought the debate over the moving bars back into the spotlight – leaving some to question, “how are pedal pubs legal when the vehicle is partly operated by people who are in the process of getting intoxicated?”

The increasingly popular pubs-on-wheels were approved about 6 years ago – originally given the okay after the state legislature passed an exception to a Minnesota statute enforcing bans on vehicles driving with open alcohol bottles.

According to the Office of the Reviser of Statutes, the exception allows vehicles that are “operated for commercial purposes in a manner similar to a bicycle as defined in section 169.011, subdivision 4, with five or more passengers who provide pedal power to the drive train of the vehicle…”

Pedal pubs get an exception because while the people doing the pedaling may be intoxicated, the person in charge of the steering and braking is in fact not drinking – giving them operational control over the vehicle – as opposed to the drunken customers.

That, however, hasn’t saved pedal pubs from objections by some Minneapolitans who argue that they’re loud, promote public drunkenness, are slow moving, and interrupt the roadways.

New Regulations
Such criticism may have contributed to new regulations passed in 2013. Those rules require the pubs to keep the noise level down, prohibit the sale of hard liquor, and require drivers operating before 10 PM to receive special licenses, according to a Star Tribune report.

Whether or not criticism of the pedal pubs grows remains to be seen but as of now according to state law – they’re not a form of drunk driving. For their own part, proponents of pedal pubs would argue they’re fun, safely regulated, and benefit something that really matters to the state: Tourism.