Bicycle built for brew: PedalPub planned for Bradenton sightseeing

PedalPub proposal could see folks grab a beer while biking through Bradenton

cschelle@bradenton.comMarch 3, 2014 

BRADENTON -- A bicycle built for brew could make its way through Bradenton if city officials approve plans for a new PedalPub.

Krista Bertelson operates the PedalPub St. Pete and wants to bring the 16-person Dutch-built bikes to her hometown of Bradenton for tours with a twist.

"The PedalPub is a giant bicycle made in Amsterdam that's available for mostly private rentals -- think of it as similar to a limo," Bertelson said.

The bikes feature eight stools to a side, with a bar on each side with cup holders for beer. In the middle, the tour guide steers while the sightseeing passengers pedal their way through town.

If Bertelson can gain city approval, folks can bring their own beer and wine on the bike and pedal for a two-hour tour throughout Bradenton, she said. No hard liquor is allowed.

"I think there's a lot of forward movement thinking here with Riverwalk, the expanding downtown and the breweries coming in," she said. "I thought it would be a good match to bring all those different pieces together, cruising to the Village of the Arts, go downtown and over to McKechnie Field."

The PedalPub also operates in Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, as well as under other licensed names in major cities including Houston and Nashville. Bertelson started the St. Pete branch three years ago and left to open it up in Rochester, Minn., before returning to Bradenton to raise her family.

In St. Petersburg, Bertelson said she is running 15 tours a month. She is working with the St. Petersburg City Council to gain approval to allow folks to sip and pedal because the tours are struggling to profit under current laws, including a restriction that prohibits the tours to be near Tropicana Field during Tampa Bay Rays games. With changes to city ordinances and regulations PedalPub could increase tours to 60 a month, which could be replicated here, she said.

Tours come out to about $20 to $23 per person for a full 16-person tour, she said, and a mixed public tour is planned at $30 per person to allow single riders to join a tour. The bikes get all sorts of group bookings, including corporate outings, birthday parties and bachelorette parties looking for fun as they pedal about 5 mph down trails and streets.

Bertelson estimates more than 250 tours can be booked a year, bringing 3,750 people to town spending at least $50 on their trip to create a $187,500 economic impact.

David Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, is excited about the PedalPub, but cautions that planning is in the "very, very preliminary stage."

"We just want to make sure it's right for the city and has the right quality," he said. Gustafson said he has to research the city's ordinances as well as how St. Petersburg has allowed the PedalPub to run before going in front of the City Council for approval.

One place you won't see the PedalPub is on the Riverwalk trail.

"Riverwalk is 10 feet wide, and the vehicle is technically 8 feet in width, so it would be extremely tight," he said.

Bertelson will likely be making appearances at other meetings to get her plan in front of the community. Her goal is to get approvals in two months, but the city's timeline might lengthen that.

Tour routes and stops as well as other details still need to be worked out, she said, but she feels confident Bradenton can be hip to the idea. "It's a great community with friendly people, and it's something new to do downtown," she said.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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