Pedicabs could soon take to the streets of downtown Turlock following a split-vote decision by the City Council on Monday, who gave staff the go-ahead to create an ordinance for the popular party bikes.
The pedal-operated vehicles serve as taxis in some countries, but in America and especially in California, pedicabs have been transformed into a source of entertainment for those celebrating birthdays, bachelor parties and more by offering a unique way to stop at a city’s best bars and restaurants.
Modesto resident Noel Dickey, who also owns 1507 Boutique in downtown Turlock, has everything she needs to open her own pedicab business — from the transportation itself to a long list of downtown bars and restaurants ready to participate and offer discounts to those who partake in the guided tours. Dickey has asked the City Council at previous meetings to create a pedicab ordinance so that her business, Central Valley Party Bikes, can operate.
Councilmembers Nicole Larson and Andrew Nosrati and Mayor Amy Bublak voted to move forward with creating a pedicab ordinance which would permit the bar-hopping bikes to allow alcohol on board, while Councilmember Rebecka Monez and Vice Mayor Pam Franco voted against it.
The vote came after lengthy discussion which included input from Interim Police Chief Gary Hampton, City Attorney George Petrulakis and even other downtown business owners, along with Dickey herself. According to Dickey, the Downtown Property Owners Association supported the idea at a recent meeting.
Dickey believes a pedicab ordinance could help bring more tourism to downtown Turlock, where businesses have felt the economic blow of the pandemic. Cities like Sacramento and San Jose are charter cities, however, and don’t have to apply to State law like general law cities such as Turlock. The Council directed Dickey to find other general law cities where such ordinances have been implemented and provide them to City staff.
“For us to be able to compete on the same level as the City of Sacramento, we would need to have the alcohol ordinance. I believe that people do like to come downtown and they do want to stay longer, they just need something to do,” Dickey told the Council. “We have all the best shops, the restaurants...there's so much we could do with shopping events, food tours, pub crawls.”
Hampton shared that Dickey has worked closely with the Turlock Police Department in crafting her business plan, which will see participants take to the roadways and pedal to downtown staples like The Udder Place, El Jardin, 10 East and more. He told Council that he supports bringing new activities to downtown Turlock, but that sufficient public education and communication would have to take place in order to keep riders safe.
“We want to work closely with them to make it successful. We also want to make sure that we don't find ourselves with a mass casualty event with 14 people underneath the vehicle, pinned, because there was misunderstanding,” Hampton said. “Yes, we are supportive of it. Yes, we are very cautious of it...Our big concern is people jumping off the bicycle in the lane of traffic, engaging passing motorists and those types of things, but it all goes to the management of the business and the close relationship between the business owner and public safety.”
Pedicabs aren’t allowed to drive in zones over 25 miles per hour, he said, but they can cross streets where vehicles are traveling faster. Bike captains/employees also have the ability to remove any riders who are too intoxicated to participate, Dickey added. She also said many safety issues would be covered via the business’ liability waiver as well as insurance.
Petrulakis was in favor of crafting in ordinance, which he believes could attract other pedicab businesses to downtown Turlock.
“It's the type of business that you probably want to ordinance, just so everybody has access to it,” he said. “People wanting to get into a business normally will go look at the city ordinances to see what they can be allowed.”
Dickey was excited to see the ordinance finally move forward, she told the Journal, and is looking forward to soon providing a safe and fun party bike experience in Turlock.
“A pedicab ordinance offers a fresh new idea to help our local businesses still hurting from the impacts of the pandemic attract much-needed revenue,” she said.
For more information about Central Valley Party Bikes, including upcoming free rides and participating businesses, follow the business on Instagram at @centralvalleypartbikes or visit its website, www.centralvalleypartybikes.com.