Party bike pitched for Bowling Green

Andrew Bailey and Andrew Bailey

The Tiffin Pedal Company wants to expand their wheelhouse to Bowling Green. Owned by Dan Perry, they operate a pedal bike in Tiffin. Pedal bikes consist of multiple riders — typically around 10 — seated around a central bar. The riders pedal the bike on a predetermined course, assisted by the bike’s driver. They often stop at local bars to patronize them, before continuing their course.

Pedal bikes are also referred to as “party bikes,” a term Joe Steinmetz, a Tiffin Pedal Company driver, said is wrong.

“It’s a bike for all ages,” he said to the Bowling Green City Council on Jan. 18. “We have Little League softball teams. We have senior citizens from group homes.”

While riders do power the bike, there is also a motor and a trained driver to assist with inclines and other tiring terrain.

City council’s input on the pedal bike was low. Councilman Greg Robinette asked Steinmetz what the reaction to the pedal bike in Tiffin was, and how any existing traffic laws affected its operation.

They do not break any laws on the road, Steinmetz said. And their only requirement is to be courteous to other motorists by accommodating for backed-up traffic and avoiding high-speed areas like highways.

Steinmetz said pedal bikes have a maximum speed of about 4.5 mph, and they have not had any major issues regarding driving laws in Tiffin.

Both Bowling Green and Tiffin’s code of ordinances have similar laws on minimum speed limits, which exist on every road. Bowling Green Police Department Lt. Adam Skaff said motorists are often unaware minimum speed limits are enforced in areas besides highways and state roads.

“Every road has maximum and minimum speed limits. They’re there to make sure people are not only driving at safe speeds, but also not unreasonably backing up traffic, especially in heavy traffic areas,” Skaff said.

The maximum speed limit on streets in downtown Bowling Green is 25 mph. Skaff did not say what the minimum speed limit for these streets is when asked.

Steinmetz said state laws on motor vehicles allow for pedal bikes to operate. Laws in place limit the amount of alcohol and wine that can be on board per person at time how many people are allowed on the bike at one time.

Robinette asked if their operation required any permits in Tiffin, or Upper Sandusky where they also own a bike.

Steinmetz said there were none required of them, but it may differ in Bowling Green after he contacts the Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Hinkelman upon City Council President Mark Hollenbaugh’s recommendation.

When asked for comment on Jan. 25, Hinkelman said no one had reached out to her regarding a pedal bike in Bowling Green.

Skaff said until the next step is taken with the pedal bike, the BGPD can only speculate as to how the bike’s operation would affect traffic, and the streets it would be allowed to ride on.

Skaff did not give any comment on how any possible noise disturbances generated from the bike would come into play.

Tiffin Pedal Company Owner Dan Perry said an important goal of his and Steinmetz’s is pushing back against the stigma of the “party bike.” While Perry said accepting the term is important so as not to confuse potential customers, the connotation of drunk, rowdy people being a nuisance while riding around town is not what their company does.

“Yes, we do allow people to have alcohol on the bike. But we maintain our rules on it. They’re not allowed to step off the bike with an open container. We make sure they stay safe while pedaling. We follow the laws in place in the areas that we operate so everyone can have a fun and safe experience,” Perry said.

He also said they do not have many complaints from Tiffin citizens about the bike.

“They love it,” he said. “When it passes by them, they’ll cheer it on.”

Steinmetz said while the bike usually moves out of the way for cars behind it on the road, “sometimes they’ll just stay behind and watch to see what’s going on.”

Browsing through reviews and other interactions with the company’s Facebook page shows people of different ages discussing their enjoyment of the bike.

While pedal bikes are typically associated with alcohol-related adventures, Perry said they also offer coffee tours, where they stop at local shops that sponsor them.

They have sponsorships displayed on the bike and try to patronize them on the bike’s various stops on each tour when possible.

But the bike serves more purpose than just tours.

Perry said that during the first Christmas during the COVID-19 pandemic, he rode the bike around neighborhoods in Tiffin, stopping at houses in town to sing Christmas carols and play music from the bike’s speakers.

“At the end of the day, we want our bikes to be a part of the community,” he said.