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Downtown pedicab proposal clears major hurdle with City Council
Pedicabs could soon be hitting Downtown Turlock after the City Council approved an ordinance to allow alcohol on the party busses that are growing in popularity across the country (Photo contributed).

During the City of Turlock’s Sept. 13 city council meeting, a vote to approve a proposed ordinance to allow alcohol to be consumed on pedicabs was approved. The vote comes nearly a year after an ordinance to allow the downtown party bikes was first introduced to the council.

According to the new ordinance that was voted on last week, while alcoholic beverages would be allowed to be consumed on the pedicabs, they cannot be provided by the operator. In addition to the pedicab operator, there must also be a safety monitor on board, which is another staff member focusing on the occupants while the operator can focus on driving. Glass containers would also not be allowed on the cab.

In response to a question by Councilmember Rebecka Monez, Chief of Police Jason Hedden explained that are rules and limitations in regards to the beverages brought on board.

“Riders can bring their own alcoholic beverages on board, up to 36 oz of beer and 18 oz of boxed wine. Beer must 7% alcohol by volume or below,” Hedden said.

After members of the public brought up concerns about alcohol in a moving vehicle, Hedden explained that pedicabs are treated and operated similarly to limousine services, which means alcohol can be consumed by passengers and that they are picked up and dropped off in a safe area. Hedden added that officers will be allowed to inspect the cabs if irregularities are noticed in terms of the alcoholic consumption or mechanical issues that may arise.

Modesto’s Noel Dickey has been leading the charge on allowing pedicabs to operate in Downtown Turlock. She is hoping to operate her business, Central Valley Party Bikes, in Turlock.

“How it will work is that the people get wristbands, and the restaurants and other businesses we partner will give discounts on drinks,” she explained. “We’ve worked really hard to collaborate because everyone is very appreciative of the business. There’s a number of things you can do, like a food tour. It’s really up to the person booking the cab. You can do alcohol or non-alcohol.”

Dickey explained that there are extra insurance fees if customers were to select the tour accepting alcoholic beverages on board.

According to Deputy Director of Development Services & Planning Manager Katie Quintero, pedicabs in Turlock are regulated under the vehicle code, which means that the pedicabs would not be able to operate on roadways with posted speed limits of excess of 30 miles per hour, unless they are crossing intersections. They are also not allowed to operate in residential areas past 10 p.m. or commercial areas past midnight.

To ensure cleanliness, Dickey explained that services are responsible for providing trash cans and will be responsible for picking up any trash left by the cab and its attendees. She assured that all materials brought on (glass, plastic or aluminum) will be disposed of properly.

Prior to the official vote, Councilmember Nicole Larson voiced her support for the motion.

“It’s not a new idea to surrounding cities in California, but it’s new to us, so new that we didn’t really have anything in our municipal code to really talk about this type of vehicle and this type of service and how to really handle it in a safe and professional manner. I applaud the staff for working so diligently on this to bring this back in well researched and well vetted program to allow a small business to come in and do this,” Larson said.

The motion was approved 4-1, with the only dissenting vote coming from Monez, who explained her decision in her closing remarks.

“I’m not against small business and I’m not against pedicabs,” she said. “My issue is the alcohol element and that’s the reason for my no-vote tonight.”

Now that the ordinance is approved, the Turlock Police Department will be creating application materials for the required permits and will be bringing forward an amendment to put fees in place for those providing inspection processes.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second reading at their next meeting on Sept. 27.