Drinking and Riding – German Beer Bikes Come to the US

Drinking and driving is usually frowned on – it’s downright deadly after all. However, there is one vehicle that is specifically made to make drinking and driving acceptable (or at least tolerable). The Beer Bike is a 10-person bike that debuted in Germany and has subsequently made its way to the shores of the US. 

What Is the Beer Bike?

At its heart, this vehicle is really nothing more than an overgrown bicycle. It’s designed to hold 10 people in relative comfort (if pedaling the same bike as nine of your friends can be called comfortable). German versions are even larger and can hold up to 16 cyclists/drinkers at one time as well as the bartender and driver.

While the US version of the Beer Bike is a bit scaled down (it’s limited to 10 people plus the driver and bartender), it remains true to its roots. You will find that the driver is not allowed to drink, ensuring that he or she can steer the bike without any mishaps. The motive force for the entire contraption comes from the seated bar patrons who are allowed to pedal away as they drink beer from the onboard tap.

The bikes have also seen uses other than simply as a way to get where you’re going while enjoying a cold brew at the same time. In Germany, one town held a charity event that featured professional athletes piloting one Beer Bike and another powered by local politicians. They’re also used for birthday parties or anniversary celebrations (without the alcohol).

Around the World

Quite a few US cities can now claim to have Beer Bikes. One such city is Houston, Texas. Of course, they’re not drawing only happy tourists and drinkers. They’re also drawing fire from pedestrians and commuters. The problems stem from the facts that the Beer Bikes are loud (the riders) and that they are very large. On narrow streets, they can often cause traffic jams as they move relatively slowly.

Some German cities have tried (unsuccessfully) to ban Beer Bikes. Dusseldorf is perhaps the most obvious example, where a ban was upheld by one court, but struck down by an appeals court. Other cities in the country are considering taking some type of action against Beer Bikes though nothing definitive has happened yet. If you live in a city where Beer Bikes are available, you might want to catch a ride while you can. There’s no telling if they’ll be around for much longer.

Posted on June 2, 2011 .