Courtesy Taste of New Haven
Elm City residents may soon see an entirely new vehicle on their streets: party bikes.
The vehicles — also known as beer bikes and pedal pubs — are already popular in cities in the American South and Europe, said Colin Caplan of Elm City Party Bikes and Taste of New Haven Food and Drink Tours. A cross between a street trolley, a cycling studio and the neighborhood tavern, party bikes offer customers an opportunity to combine two activities usually performed separately — drinking and exercise. Riders sit facing a central bar area with a set of pedals for each seat. While riders pedal, a sober driver steers the vehicle through the streets.
“The idea is that you are sitting at a kind of mobile bar,” Caplan said. “Everyone pedals together to power the bike, although there is an electric motor that can be used as a backup, for, say, if we need extra help up a hill. But in general, if you aren’t pedaling, the bike isn’t moving.”
A few non-pedaling seats are available as well — presumably for those who prefer to imbibe without straining their quads.
Caplan, who was born and raised in New Haven, said party bike tours seemed like a logical extension of the culinary and sightseeing tours already offered by his business, Taste of New Haven. The new tours will offer a chance to “bar and restaurant hop while viewing extravagant architecture,” according to the company website. A tour guide seated at the back of the bike will point out sites and share historical and cultural anecdotes during the two-hour tour, which also includes stops at a few local pubs.
Timur Guler ’18 and Brian Beitler ’18, juniors in Calhoun College, said they had never heard of party bikes, let alone that they would be coming to New Haven.
“It sounds like it would be quite an experience” Guler said, though he said that he had no particular interest in touring New Haven.
Beitler said that he while he was unfamiliar with the concept of a party bike, he was quite familiar with party buses, a more common and popular form of a moving party.
But Caplan said party bikes are a wholly different experience. Unlike buses, they are “a green machine, providing exercise, promoting the outdoors, and bringing people through New Haven.”
Also, while those under the age of 21 may in some cases be allowed to get on a party bus, Elm City Party Bike will have a strict no-one under 21 rule.
“We won’t provide any alcohol ourselves,” Caplan said. “But for now, everyone has to be 21, because we don’t want to be responsible for mixing people up, especially when we are dropping people off at bars.”
He said he would also be open to providing tours for students under the age of 21 if there is demand
Of eight students interviewed, only one had actually heard of a party bike. Birce Gokalp GRD ’17 said she had seen party bikes before, though she had never been on one.
“I’ve definitely seen it in other cities before, but it has always seemed like a tourist attraction to me. I think that might be good though, and I might try it once, although I doubt it will be a regular thing for me,” she said.
Soon enough though, party bikes may become a frequent sight around New Haven. Elm City Party Bike will feature one of the vehicles as a float in the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the bikes will be on the streets starting April 1, 2017.