The Emanuel administration has been doing a terrific job of promoting biking, so it’s bizarre that the city seems to be stonewalling a bicycle-powered business that supports local retail districts and helps prevent drunk driving. Pedal Pub leads bar crawls on sixteen-person vehicles, operating legally in 27 other cities. In a few cities they are even permitted to serve beer from a keg onboard, although they’re not proposing to do that in Chicago.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has twice denied them a license and hasn’t acted on their most recent application for a year, and Pedal Pub says they haven’t been told why. Last summer the business ran trips in Chicago, expecting to eventually get a license. The city wound up fining them $15,000 for operating without a license and for deceptive practices, because they ran a Groupon that failed to mention their status as an unlicensed business. The former charge was eventually dropped and the penalty lowered to $2,000. I called Pedal Pub’s Chicago manager Matt Graham for his perspective on the issue.