I spend way too much of my time at Greensboro City Council meetings to be healthy. These days I wonder what I did when I was sitting there with a pen and pad and no internet. No email to read, no click bait sites to check out. It must have been awful, but fortunately I don’t have much memory of those days.
However, at the Greensboro City Council meeting this week there was something that perked me up and, as it turned out, what I thought was the most interesting thing on the 63 item agenda was that the City Council would be considering an ordinance to make peddle trolleys – those 10-passenger vehicles that people pedal down the street while sitting at a bar drinking malt beverages or wine.
I imagined there would be some folks who would come to the meeting to speak against people having fun in downtown Greensboro, but I was wrong. Nobody spoke against the idea of people right out in public pedaling some trolley around and drinking beer. No one spoke in favor of it either, and not a single member of the City Council said a word about it.
There was also an ordinance to approve “low speed vehicle taxicabs” and no one said word one about that either. Both passed by unanimous votes. Councilmember Sharon Hightower didn’t even ask about the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) percentages on the company, Brew Peddlers, bringing the peddle trolley to Greensboro.
It may have been because this was item 57 on the agenda and they were all thinking about getting home, but I can’t imagine former City Councilmember Mike Barber passing up a chance to wax profound on the joys of pedaling and drinking beer.
Downtown Greensboro Inc. President Zack Matheny said he’d been working on getting the ordinance passed for two years. I mentioned to Matheny that it was just about two years ago that I sent him a photo of people enjoying a peddle trolley in downtown Nashville with a little note that said something like, “Why don’t we get these in Greensboro? They look like fun.”
Matheny said the Brew Peddler’s peddle trolley has been sitting right around the corner from his office waiting for the ordinance to be approved and he expected to see it out on the streets soon.
Peddle trolleys hold up to 10 people who really do power the strange looking vehicle by peddling. Fortunately, the law requires the peddle trolley to have an operator who isn’t drinking and is not only in charge of steering the vehicle but also making sure the people providing the pedal power don’t get out of hand.
Matheny said, “I think the key thing about pedal trolleys is that people are having fun. There having fun peddling that thing down the street, maybe having a beer while touring around with their friends in downtown Greensboro, smiling, laughing and having a good time. People on the street see them and it’s hard not to smile. The more of these things we can get done the more attractive downtown becomes. It goes over and above pedaling around, it’s about quality of life and it’s fun.”
The way it works – which I know from reading the ordinance while the City Council was talking about the endless appointments to boards and commissions – is that the operator of the trolley is not allowed to sell or otherwise provide alcoholic beverages for the peddlers, but peddlers are allowed to bring their own beverages on board and consume them while pedaling away. They can’t, however, get off the trolley with an open alcoholic beverage container.
I don’t know how they do hills, but if they should go down the hill on East Market Street in front of the News & Record building, I hope the trolley has good brakes. To get back up that hill I think they would either need some Tour de France veterans or perhaps a tow truck.
Actually, I also looked at the map of the routes for the pedal trolley and that hill is not on the route, but then again people do make wrong turns.
It’s too bad that Greensboro is only going to have one pedal trolley because if there were two, the city councilmembers could challenge the Guilford County commissioners to a race around the downtown. They could be judged on speed and the amount of malt beverages consumed. I bet people would line the streets to see that.