Winnipeg’s newest pub crawl has wheels — and pedals, and a maximum speed of about eight kilometres per hour.
If you’re in the Exchange District or Osborne Village, you might see Pedal Pub. It’s hard to miss: 15 people on a rectangular four-wheeled vehicle, possibly singing to music while pedalling the "party bike" onwards to their next drink stop.
"We want to have fun with it," said Rylan Adam, one of Pedal Pub Winnipeg’s owners.
Pedallers hit up microbreweries and restaurants — up to four per two-hour tour — and cycle roughly 15 minutes between stops.
Adam saw the party bike in action last August, when he was visiting Sioux Falls, S.D.
"I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool, fun — I wonder if Winnipeg has something like that,’" he said.
Winnipeg didn’t. So, he and friends Miguel Gauthier and Brandon Guenther looked into franchise opportunities: Pedal Pub has more than 60 locations across North America.
The trio received funding through the Canadian Small Business Financing Program and a local credit union to buy three $85,000 bikes and cover franchise expenses.
"We wanted to get (this) going as fast as possible," Adam said. "We just kind of thought, coming out of COVID, everyone’s going to be amped to do something."
The bikes are perfect for special occasions like bachelorette parties, birthdays and corporate events, according to Pedal Pub Winnipeg’s owners.
"We’re… trying to bring life back into the businesses that have been hurt by COVID." — Rylan Adam
"We’re really focusing on the fact that we’re supporting local," Adam said. "We’re… trying to bring life back into the businesses that have been hurt by COVID."
A trip through the Exchange District might mean visits to Johnny G’s, The Common, Local Public Eatery and Devil May Care Brewing Company. Over in Osborne, people can buy brews at the Toad in the Hole, Confusion Corner Bar and Grill, Low Life Barrel House and Sookram’s Brewing Company.
"The timing couldn’t be better," said Kevin Byrne, general manager of Confusion Corner Bar and Grill. "I think people are itching to get back out."
About six weeks earlier, Pedal Pub Winnipeg approached Byrne to add Confusion Corner to its roster of stops, Byrne said.
"It’s a good partnership," Byrne said while organizing his 20-table parking-lot patio Wednesday. "You get more people in here that haven’t been here for a long time, and you’re supporting someone else that’s trying to get something off the ground."
Pedal Pub Winnipeg doesn’t take a cut of the profits from bikers’ food and drink purchases.
Patrons must finish their drinks before they resume pedalling, and they’re not committing the drinking-and-driving offence they would if they got behind a car’s steering wheel, according to the Winnipeg Police Service.
"’Pedal Pub’ is considered a ‘vehicle’ under the (Highway Traffic Act) but does not constitute a ‘motor vehicle,’" Ally Siatecki, a WPS media-relations assistant, wrote in an email.
"’Pedal Pub’ is considered a ‘vehicle’ under the (Highway Traffic Act) but does not constitute a ‘motor vehicle.’" — Ally Siatecki, WPS media-relations assistant
A sober tour guide leads each group. The guide controls the bike’s direction and speed and has an electric assist motor to use if needed, but customers are expected to pull their own weight.
"If you’ve got 10 people on there, say, then they need to be pedalling in order to make it move," Adam said.
Pedal Pub Winnipeg didn’t require any City of Winnipeg licences, according to spokesman Kalen Qually.
"Similar companies would also not require licensing as long as they can confirm the vehicle they plan to use is compliant with existing regulations," he wrote.
The party bikes are too large for bike lanes and will operate on Winnipeg’s roadways instead, Qually wrote.
Adam hopes to eventually have alcohol on the bikes.
"We’re always in discussion with the LGCA (Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority)," he said, noting Calgary is among the Pedal Pub locations to offer brews and biking simultaneously.
Tours begin Saturday. The bikes will travel on city streets from 11 a.m. to 9:15 p.m., though hours vary by day and location.
Groups can book a bike for $549 Monday through Thursday and $599 Friday through Sunday. The company is offering individual-seat tours on Tuesday evenings at $60 a person. Riders must be at least 18.
"It’s new experiences like this that help move our industry and Manitoba’s economy forward on our road to recovery," Lindsay Egan, Travel Manitoba’s partnership manager, said at a news conference.
Pedal Pub Winnipeg estimates each tour will elicit $1,200 in spending at local businesses.
The bikes have five non-pedalling seats. Fietscafe, a Dutch manufacturer, makes the vehicles.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.