Beer Bike Ban Düsseldorf Court Spoils the Party
What has 16 passengers, pedals, a bar and loud music? Answer: a bierbike, a pedal-and-alcohol-fuelled contraption which can often be seen swerving along the streets of German cities. But now a court has banned the party wagons amid fears that inebriated passengers could tumble onto the road.
The beer is flowing, the pedals are turning and the mood aboard the bierbike, or beer bike, is euphoric. But the passengers' high spirits aren't shared by nearby car drivers, stuck behind the six-kilometer-per-hour vehicle on Dusseldorf's main drag, the Königsalle.
Favored by stag parties or fans of an environmentally-friendly city tour, more and more German cities now have beer bikes. But now a court in the western German city of Düsseldorf has banned the 16-seat contraptions. They are not allowed to travel without a special permit -- and they are not going to grant any, the court said, in a decision which could set a precedent in Germany.
Those renting beer bikes argued that their multi-wheeled cycles had as much right to the streets as any other bike. But Judge Ute Fischer stepped on the brakes, arguing that travel was clearly not the main aim of the "rolling party bars."
Sightseeing or Binge Tour?
For the owners of the 20,000 ($28,000) vehicles, the ruling hurts. "More than 100 jobs are at stake," said a spokesman for the Cologne-based Bierbike GmbH, which runs tours in more than 36 cities. The bar-on-wheels costs 120 per hour to rent, making it a lucrative business.
During the court case, the rental firm tried to play down the image of binge tours, saying the tours were popular among companies trying to boost workers' morale or senior citizens wanting to see the sights. They stressed that the quantity of alcohol is limited and the person behind the steering wheel remains sober throughout.
But the city of Düsseldorf eyes one big risk: It based its ruling on the threat of "falling guests" as well as beer glasses dropping into the road. "Beer bikes have proved themselves to be bothersome," it added.