Milwaukee Pedal Tavern could allow alcohol on board again

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- After a winter break, a familiar bicycle pub tour is rumbling around the Third Ward.

The Milwaukee Pedal Tavern suffered a set-back in October, but now it might be making a comeback with the help of lawmakers.

The cheers of passengers on-board the 16 seat, pedal-powered bar crawl on wheels echo down the streets.  With all the noise and excitement, it's hard to believe many people are under the impression the Milwaukee Pedal Tavern is out of business.

"We've probably had about a thousand phone calls, emails from people saying, "I'm sorry the city shut you down."  It's not that we're shut down, we're still open," said Derek Collins, co-owner of the Milwaukee Pedal Tavern.

In the fall, the city of Milwaukee announced the Pedal Tavern was violating the law by having open intoxicants in the streets.  The Pedal Tavern wasn't serving drinks, but did allow riders to bring their own to sip in between bar stops.

Without any drinks on board, the Pedal Tavern kept pedaling along, but business declined.

"In October, we thought we would have about 80 tours.  We only had about 30," said Collins.

Representative Jeff Stone is circulating a bill that would exempt the pedal pub from the state's open intoxicants law.

"It's similar to a limousine or commercial bus, where you have a driver who's responsible," said Rep. Stone.

Not everyone likes the idea.  A Facebook group named "I hate the pedal tavern" complains it's too loud and irritates bar regulars.  However, Stone says the business is positive for the city.  He plans to introduce the bill within the next few days.

"It creates tourism dollars.  It creates a festive atmosphere and it's something proven to operate very safely," said Stone.

The Pedal Tavern owners say 30 to 40 percent of their weekend business comes from outside Milwaukee, from places like Northern Illinois, Madison and Green Bay.