By Erika Webb
A bicycle made for two has long been considered quaint, but a bicycle made for 15, including booze, did not charm several members of the Volusia County Council. In a 5-2 vote Aug. 8, the council turned down Altamonte Springs-based Limo Cycle Tours' request to operate its non-motorized vehicle on the beach.
The signage on the pedal-propelled people mover reads "Beer Wheel Drive," but the company's president Steve Tishman said he's willing to make concessions.
He told the council he would agree to lock all alcohol away in onboard coolers prior to entering the beach and would Change the signage to read "Cycle Limo Tours," with no reference to alcohol.
Mr. Tishman proposed traversing the half-mile no-drive zone on the beach between the ramps at International Speedway Boulevard and Main Street, saying beach access is crucial to the operation and allowing alcohol is central to its success.
Councilman Josh Wagner and Chair Jason Davis each expressed support with a stipulation: while on the beach, all alcohol would be locked away and the limo bike would be subject to random inspections by beach safety officers.
"I think the vehicle is actually kind of cool lookin'," Chair Davis said, noting its impressive design.
While he didn't advocate drinking on the beach, he pointed to reality.
"There are people that are drunk on the beach. They come right out of the back of that restaurant right there at the pier ... right by what's the name of that place? Matter of fact they got a special permit from us to put out ropes and their own security guards so that they can serve alcohol on the beach at special events."
"I really don't see this as a drop-down-drunk type situation," Mr. Wagner said.
Citing the regulation, which prohibits alcohol being brought onto beaches, even in the trunks of cars, County Manager Jim Dinneen informed the council that one of Mr. Tishman's proposed changes is a rule breaker.
"You still have a violation of county policy," Mr. Dinneen said.
To Mr. Tishman's contention, the limo is a bicycle and bicycles are permitted in the beach's no-drive zones, deputy county attorney Jamie Seaman said county code defines it as a vehicle, not a bicycle.
Segways also are not permitted in traffic-free or habitat conservation zones, she added.
Councilwoman Joyce Cusack looked at the picture of the open-air limo and, noting the absence of outer railings, expressed concerns about occupant safety.
"Does this vehicle have sidebars, like a high chair to hold you in? 'Cause you might fall out," she said laughing.
The vehicle, which does not exceed a speed of 5 mph, contains 10 pedaling seats, Mr. Tishman said, assuring the council two non-imbibing company employees would be on board to steer, brake, entertain and monitor safety.
"You all are seriously thinking about this?" Councilwoman Pat Northey asked. "Unbelievable! No! Not just no, hell no!"
Councilman Doug Daniels agreed.
"I like alcohol as much as the next person. If you had a beer, I mean Bourbon Wheel Drive, then I might support this," Councilman Daniels joked.
Ms. Northey and Mr. Daniels reminded council members the goal has been to upgrade Daytona Beach's image and that revelry roving across no drive zones is not the way to accomplish that objective.
"As much as it pains me to turn down anyone serving alcohol for any purpose, I won't be supporting it," Mr. Daniels said. "I think we need to go a different way in Daytona."
He said having the vehicle in the no-drive zones would disturb beachgoers.
"It's terrible for the hotels, terrible ..." Mr. Daniels added.
Before the vote, he suggested deferring action until after representatives from the beachfront hotels and the city of Daytona Beach could be consulted.
"Until the city of Daytona Beach decides, until the hotels decide that this is the image they want to project, who are we on the County Council to say this is proper?" he added.
Mr. Tishman said Hilton and Plaza management have asked the company to base its operation at each of the hotels, and that it will be based at the Plaza Resort and Spa.
Passenger pedaled tour-mobiles operate in more than 40 cities around the country, including Savannah, Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg.
Mr. Tishman said the vehicles are "incredibly" successful.
He told members of the council the limo cycle will be operational in Daytona Beach by October.
Plaza Resort and Spa Manager Bob VanBergen said an agreement between the hotel and Limo Cycle Tours is imminent.
"We very much want them to be based out of here," Mr. VanBergen said. "However he gets legal permission to operate, it'll be a nice addition to things for tourists to do."
Daytona Beach Public Information Officer Susan Cerbone said the city has received limited information about the company's intentions.
"Basically, the vehicle would not be able to have people drinking alcohol while riding in it when they are on city streets. It would violate the state's open container law," Ms. Cerbone, wrote in an emailed response to questions.
Savannah Slow Ride and St. Pete Pedal Pub rent the "pedi-buses" to groups of people for pub crawls. In Savannah, riders 21 and over who present proper identification are permitted to bring alcohol from area restaurants and bars aboard the vehicle, but in St. Petersburg no alcohol is allowed pursuant to the same state open container law that applies in Daytona Beach.
Minneapolis permits riders of its "Traveling Tap" to bring their own alcohol aboard.
St. Pete Pedal Pub Manager Lindsey Lumpkin said the city's restaurants and bars offer specials to Pedal Pub patrons but the prohibition of alcohol on board makes it tough to entice passengers.
"But people who do come out have such a good time," Ms. Lumpkin said. "The Pedal Pub gives a lot of business to the local pubs. I like being able to help the local businesses."
Savannah Slow Ride reservation specialist Karen Kipp said the pedaled pub crawl is very popular in Savannah for historic tours as well as for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
"It's very successful and a fun way for people to be in downtown Savannah," Ms. Kipp said.
"Who doesn't like going to Savannah?" Councilman Wagner said, disappointed after the vote. "This is the reason why we take steps backwards, because we can't do what other great destinations are doing."
Chair Davis encouraged Mr. Tishman to keep working with the city of Daytona Beach.
"You're not done there," Chair Davis said, wishing him luck.