Mobile taverns could soon be reality in Hamilton

Known as commercial quadricycles, these human-powered pedal vehicles were permitted by state law in 2015.

Credit: Photo: Contributed

Credit: Photo: Contributed

The city of Hamilton is aiming to be the next city with a mobile tavern program.

Known technically as a commercial quadricycle, Hamilton is considering a pilot program ― pending City Council approval ― that will allow these motorized-assisted human-powered pedal vehicles to operate in designated areas of the city.

Hamilton Director of Engineering Rich Engle said his department has worked with the Hamilton Police and Law departments to develop this three-year pilot program that would begin after a council vote in mid-July.

“It’s intended to be an entertainment vehicle to travel around the city,” said Engle. “We’ve had a couple of companies in the city ask and have expressed interest in doing this.”

Legislation being proposed would establish a new codified ordinance and outline the program’s requirements, including licensing of the vehicle and driver, insurance liability and inspections. There are also fees associated with the program.

Ohio lawmakers allowed commercial quadricycles to operate in April 2015 when it established outdoor refreshment areas and exempted them from the open container law under certain criteria. While they are assisted by motorized power, “a passenger riding on a commercial quadricycle pedaled solely by human power, under certain conditions.”

State law also requires a maximum of 36 ounces of beer or 18 ounces of wine permitted by each passenger.

Vice Mayor Michael Ryan said the program is “a great idea.”

“Cincinnati has this, and I had an opportunity to do it downtown with friends a couple of years ago,” he said. “It’s a great way to connect with businesses, it’s a great way to bring people to the city. I hope this works out.”

Engle said one of the companies he’s spoken with said they wouldn’t be ready to operate until next spring, and is uncertain about the operational timing of the other company that’s interested in participating.

It won’t be until after the program is in operation and commercial quadricycles are on the roads that the engineering, police, and law departments can assess certain things, like how many of the pedal vehicles would be allowed on the road at a time.

“I would think one or two per company at the most,” Engle said. “We need to see how it’s going to operate in the city and make decisions after that.”

Councilman Timothy Naab said, like his colleague, he also has been on a commercial quadricycle, as well as a pedal boat, which operates similarly to its land counterpart. He said they all have the same entertainment value with “very, very limited alcoholic capabilities to carry on.”

“I’m hopeful this pilot program can prove successful in Hamilton,” he said.

Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Dan Bates said this pilot program would be “a fabulous thing for businesses” in Hamilton.

“It makes being out and about fun, and it makes it a fun way to get from place to place,” he said. “I think it adds to the fun vibe of Hamilton. I think that people get together and go around downtown more slowly than if they were driving through and having a lot more fun if they were just walking.”

In addition to Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, many cities around the country have these human-pedaled vehicles (which range in sizes), such as Chicago, Nashville and Milwaukee.

Though the commercial quadricycles will operate within the designated outdoor refreshment area, Engle said DORA to-go cups are a no-go.

“This is separate from the DORA program; they would not be allowed to bring DORA cups onto the vehicle,” he said. “They would have to bring their own (beverages).”

Many cities with a commercial quadricycle program are much bigger than Hamilton, but Bates said it might be only a matter of time before the City of Sculpture (with a population of more than 63,000 people) could be considered a big city.

“Obviously, the city’s growing, and certainly, the business community is growing. The other thing we’re seeing is a tremendous influx of young people who want to live in Hamilton, which is pretty cool,” Bates said. “I don’t know if we’ve reached the big-city category yet, but it is certainly a sign of growth and very exciting.”

About the Author