Archive for Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vehicle puts new spin on bar hopping

The Pedal Hopper was taken out for a test drive Thursday, going from South Park to downtown. Riders power the vehicle by pedaling, while a driver steers and stops it.

The Pedal Hopper was taken out for a test drive Thursday, going from South Park to downtown. Riders power the vehicle by pedaling, while a driver steers and stops it.

July 27, 2010


Mobile bar hits downtown streets

The Pedal Hopper, a mobile bar operated by its patrons, has been seen cruising through downtown Lawrence recently. Alcohol is not yet allowed on board the vehicle, but the owner is working to make that a reality. Enlarge video

Luke Stone, Lawrence, was given a brochure about six months ago that provided details of an interesting contraption rolling along the streets of Minneapolis, Minn.

It’s called the Pedal Pub — a bar on wheels. He says he thought to himself, “That will be perfect for Lawrence.”

Now his vision is a reality. A 16-seat, pedal-powered bar is zig-zagging the streets of downtown Lawrence.

Although the trolley-like ride looks the same as the ones operating in Minnesota, his is a little different. He calls his business Pedal Hopper. Unlike the Pedal Pub, the Pedal Hopper doesn’t allow alcohol on board. That’s because the state of Kansas forbids it — at least for now. Stone says he’s working on that. For the next year, though, he can only allow food and non-alcoholic drinks for the drive.

He recently obtained permission from city commissioners to operate the Pedal Hopper. On a unanimous vote, the group is allowing Stone to travel the numbered streets of downtown, as well as New Hampshire and Vermont streets. The city won’t allow him to travel along Massachusetts Street because of the traffic troubles the Pedal Hopper would cause. It moves at a speed of 5-8 miles per hour.

Here’s how it works: Stone sits behind the wheel, operating the steering and the brake. Almost everyone else on board pedals as though they’re pedaling a bicycle. They hang on tight to the wooden bar, as they ride. Along the way, Stone shouts things to the group like “pedal!” or “turning right.”

He has the riders hang their arms out to the right or left, depending on the turn, to signal.

Lawrence is now one of only two cities in the country to operate pedal-powered rides like this. The idea originally came from Europe, where the vehicles are popular in places such as Amsterdam and in German cities.

Stone believes the Pedal Hopper is a great fit for Lawrence because the downtown area is a hot spot for college students and tourists. “Everybody’s had a blast; even the traffic behind us is like, yay!” he said.

The $50,000 investment was delivered to Lawrence on Monday. For several nights, Stone gathered his friends to help pedal while he tested his routes. One of his friends, Amy Leadingham, says she expects it to be a big hit: “I think it’s awesome; I think it’s great.”

The grand opening special rate is $140 per hour, with a two-hour minimum. The rate goes down as additional hours are booked. The Pedal Hopper can operate with as few as four people, but, Stone says, “It’s a workout.” He said that, ideally, bookings will have between six and 16 riders.

There are a few restrictions. Riders must be 18 or older to ride, and they must sign a liability waiver before they can get on.

Stone says renters can choose around four destinations they want to visit along the tour, stopping for about 20 minutes at each location. “It’s really for anybody who wants to collaborate, have a great time, and get a group of people together,” Stone said.

For more information, or to make a reservation, visit You can also call 856-TOUR.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Saw this the other evening........ very very clever. No alcohol = great idea = makes it available to our younger people aka children.

All non gasoline powered vehicles ought to be allowed to travel the neighborhood streets whether powered by pedals or battery.

del888 7 years, 10 months ago

Riders must be 18 or older to ride - did you read the article?

nobody1793 7 years, 10 months ago

No one reads the LJW for the articles...

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

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Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

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Stuart Evans 7 years, 10 months ago

the draw of all other pedal pubs is alcohol. this guy's got a long road ahead of him to recoup $50k

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 10 months ago

Um... you want me to pay money to pedal my way around downtown? Thanks, but I already have a bike.

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

$140 to pedal around town?

I'm pretty, but feeling lost on this one.

Clovis Sangrail 7 years, 10 months ago

“Everybody’s had a blast; even the traffic behind us is like, yay!” he said.

I'll bet they are like "yay!" I think he is misinterpreting those one-fingered waves as approval.

Tonie Barnett Bruns 7 years, 10 months ago

I believe you rent the entire thing for $140 per hour. Seems like he might be popular for a while, but will probably burn out, if he can't get alcohol on board. This IS a college town. Most Lawrencians that frequent downtown are probably looking for drinks. He might be able to get with a few of the local bar owners and offer "coupons" of sorts, to entice business....however, I don't know if that is legal either...Seems like a fun idea, hopefully it works out for him.

parrothead8 7 years, 10 months ago

They'll allow him on Vermont and New Hampshire, where traffic travels faster, but not on Mass, where traffic moves slower? That seems counterintuitive.

thelonious 7 years, 10 months ago

Counterintuitive is one word for it. Plain stoo-pid is another.

So Mass street traffic averages 5-8 mph, how would allowing this on Mass make traffic on Mass any worse? Might as well just clog Mass up completely with cars trolling for parking spots, this new pedal hopper thing, while we're at it let's add some horses and rickshaws for the full effect.

Even dumber, most of us who work in downtown Lawrence rely on NH & Vermont to get around the crawl on Mass, and now we're going to encounter this dumb contraption. Brilliant!

But hey, it's only teenage wasteland, and our city commissioners are the absentee parents.

Rae Hudspeth 7 years, 10 months ago

How about the safety difference between parallel parking and those idjits that suddenly back out of parking spots on Mass?

And stop crying about having to take a few minutes longer to get somewhere. Slow down, enjoy life for a change. Horsedrawn carriages work fine in other towns, not much difference.

EarthaKitt 7 years, 10 months ago

I think it looks really fun, but without alcohol on board I'm thinking it's going to be tough to get folks to book it for multi-hour tours. If it has to be alcohol free is there some way for it to operate as a bar-to-bar taxi?

irvan moore 7 years, 10 months ago

wow, i find it hard to believe that ONLY 2 cities in the US think this is a good idea. sarcasm.

50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

At $140 per hour with a 2 Hour minimum, according to my math is $280 for 16 people to pedal around for 2 hours = $17.50 per person if filled to capicity. Sorry, I wouldn't want to be the bank that financed this venture. I predict at the maximum length of time before bankruptcy will be 6 months. Look to Christmas Day being the end of this follie.

whats_going_on 7 years, 10 months ago

good luck getting that thing around on the iceroads after one of our lovely, Lawrence winters. (not) And for that matter, good luck getting people to ride it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious about where he parks this thing while not in use, and how he gets it there, given that it takes a minimum of 4 people to power it, and probably more like 8 if going very far.

John Spencer 7 years, 10 months ago

I think this will last till someone falls off the thing and sues.

Jaime Baggett 7 years, 10 months ago

You have to sign a waiver before getting on.

conservativepunker 7 years, 10 months ago

Monkeys is right. The folks are in Lawrence, it's gonna take just one person to fall and the Lawyers will have a field day.....

conservativepunker 7 years, 10 months ago

Monkeys is right. The folks are in Lawrence, it's gonna take just one person to fall and the Lawyers will have a field day.....

Vinny1 7 years, 10 months ago

And then they will bring up the liability waiver that these people signed before riding.

John Spencer 7 years, 10 months ago

His vehicle is grossly inadequate for transporting inebriated people, heck it's inadequate for transporting people that are not tanked. I think any decent attorney could get the waiver tossed, showing the vehicle was an accident waiting to happen.

somedude20 7 years, 10 months ago

This could be great but since he is a) not allowed to drive on Mass where most of the bars are and b) no alcohol allowed on board c) need a buch of people and costs a fair amount of money d) back to a and b but still costs money. I wish Luke all the best and I hope it works out but the Govt has tied his hands and with Kansas weather making about 5 or so months unusable his work will be cut out for him (never understood that phrase because if your work is cut out than that means it is gone and you work less)

Bursting 7 years, 10 months ago

I guess I don't understand why it can't operate on Mass Street while the one man pedal taxi can? That guy creeps at about 3 mph, this is much bigger, more noticable, and surely faster!!!

And sorry buddy, but your ride costs way to much...

Bailey Perkins 7 years, 10 months ago

Saw this, at a party, over the weekend. Loved it!!

Suing would become a concern...but you sign a waiver. Read before you sign to realize what you've just agreed to do.

Vinny1 7 years, 10 months ago

This is about the dumbest thing ever. I'll pay you for me to pedal around? Nope. Got my own bike. Can't drink? Well there goes most of this things appeal. 2 hour minimum? What the hell do I want to go up and down Vermont and New Hampshire streets for 2 hours for?

And these things are NOT popular in Amsterdam or Germany. I was just over there for 2 months and never saw anything close to this sort. There were millions of bicycles, and even some 2 or 3 people ones, but never something like this.

I congratulate this guy on trying to be an entrepreneur, but usually to be successful you have to have a good idea.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

Are people going to pee in that barrel on the front?

50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

The more I think about this, the more questions arise as to how it will opperate. First, I have to give it a name so I came up with this one: Luke's Folley Trolley. I am wondering where it will be parked and how will it get to its first destination if it takes 4 people just to move it. Next, what happens when the end destination for a group will be a local bar and everyone gets off, how is it going to move empty? Who is going to transport the trolley back to it's parking spot? What about hot days, when it is 100 or higher heat index. How many will be riding then. Freezing weather, when snow is on the ground and temps are below freezing and winds are blowing, how many riders will there be? I could go on and on here but I think readers are getting the drift of my comments. No alternate power source equals a trolley stuck in the middle of the street somewhere in Lawrence.

jartsu37 7 years, 10 months ago

To answer your questions...The Hopper will be parked in a storage facility on top of a trailer. When people rent out the vehicle, they all meet at a predetermined destination, bringing the pedal hopper on a truck. The final destination will always be where everyone parked and met. A tour from point A to point A. During the winter, The Hopper is thinking about taking a vacation, somewhere nice and sunny! You should check out the website, for more info.

Brad Maestas 7 years, 10 months ago

This is more of a bicycle than an automobile. For higher visibility, it is preferred and accepted to fully extend either arm to signal on a bicycle. It is also acceptable to signal with only one arm if you favor one to keep on the bike. The only reason an auto driver uses a bent arm is because they can only put one arm out the window. thanks for the picture of a left arm extended out and bent at a right angle pointing up, btw

areyouserious 7 years, 10 months ago

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Charlie Sabotage 7 years, 10 months ago

the guy isn't SOl if he got paid 140 and hour to rent this thing and the bikers bail. He's in the good. I think it might be a better idea if maybe he charged per ride, because i don't see many people scrounging together $140, well 280 since it's a two hour minimum to ride around the same six blocks w/o alcohol. i could do that on foot, for two hours, for free and hit every bar and need this guy to pedal my ass home. i'd pay him five for that

jehovah_bob 7 years, 10 months ago

How much is it to rent a limo with strippers and beer?

think_about_it 7 years, 10 months ago

The last one I rented was $75/ hour. BYOB

think_about_it 7 years, 10 months ago

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jehovah_bob 7 years, 10 months ago

A limo sounds like the better value to me.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't want to ride in any multi-passenger vehicle on city streets that can be totaled if it gets into an accident with a Smart Car.

FanceeNancee 7 years, 10 months ago

Checked out their visually pleasing website...then at the bottom I noticed the skyline of campus. Wonder how long before KU goes after the image claiming it's trademarked...

gccs14r 7 years, 10 months ago

For 50 grand it should be electric. Dude got ripped off bad. He probably could have had one made here for under $10k.

Keith 7 years, 10 months ago

No kidding, I bet Farnsworth could have whipped up something twice as cool, for half the price.

suzieq1216 7 years, 10 months ago

To me this sounds like a stupid idea and it's probably going to fail unless he comes up with another way to sell it. First off $140 an hour to pedal around, you got to be kidding me. Most people willing to spend that much would rather rent a party bus for $200 an hour that has tv's, stripper poles, stereo, and has room for more people. Why would someone pay that much to pedal in an open air vehicle, when they can pay about the same for a party bus where there is no work involved. Also the pedal car can't have alcohol on-board, party buses can another reason someone would chose to rent that over a pedal car. Really was the guy thinking at all when he came up with this idea: hmmm let me charge people $280 to pedal around for 2 hours in 100 degree weather while we create traffic problems because it only goes 6 miles an hour.

If he wants to even have a chance a making this successful he needs to charge for individual rides/ riders sort of modeling it after KCMO's Kc Strip Trolley. A person can buy a monthly pass to KCMO"s trolley for $30, and it takes them to 8 entertainment districts with over a 100 bars and restaurants, plus you get specials at those bars and restaurants for having a trolley pass. So that's what he needs to do charge like $2.50-$5.00 for an individual ride, and also offer weekly and monthly passes. Most people would pay $5 for a ride just to try it out and have fun, but not many are going to want to spend $20 to pedal around for 2 hours, I mean come on the reality is it would cost more to pedal around for 2 hrs. than the price of gas for your car to drive around downtown Lawrence for 2 hrs.

suzieq1216 7 years, 10 months ago

No I don't have a business plan but I think his business would be more successful if he sold it that way. The money he's trying to charge right now, I don't really see a big market for it. If a group of 16 people rent it for $280 that's $17.50 each, more if there isn't 16, but the cheapest per rider price would be $17.50 that's alot of money to pay to pedal yourself around town in a hot open aired vehicle. Just last month I went on a party bus where you could have alcohol, stereo, driver and was air conditioned and the per rider price was only $20. I don't see how he can compete with those kinds of businesses charging almost the same price. I think it would be more successful if he did individual rides with cheaper prices maybe like $5 a ride and then sell weekly/monthly passes. With the economy the way it is and the employment situation I just think it's going to be hard finding alot of people willing to shell out at least $17.50 just to pedal themselves around for 2 hours.

MyName 7 years, 10 months ago

Well to break even he needs ~358 hours worth of riders at that price. If he gets 16 hours a week worth of riding (so somewhere around 3-4 nights a week) he'll break even in less than 6 months, which is probably okay since he can only run it 6 months out of the year in Kansas. So next year he'd have maybe a $50k profit for a 20 hour a week job that runs 6 months out of the year.

It's not as much money as a party bus or a trolley company, but if it works it's not chump change.

gccs14r 7 years, 10 months ago

He's going to be lucky to book two hours a week, though. Seriously, how many people know 15 other people who want to go ride the thing to be able to book the whole thing all at once? If couples could hop on for $10 an hour ($5 each), then he'd probably have some business.

Brad Maestas 7 years, 10 months ago

This is not a party bus nor is it supposed to compete with them. It is in an altogether different, much less douchy vein. It's something different. And if you got your facts straight you would know that they are running dry for a year and that they will be allowed to serve alcohol the following year. This is uncharted territory. Give them a break. Diversity is a good thing.

50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

I wonder how good the breaks are on this trolley. Aren't roadworthy vehicles required to have headlights, tail lights and turn signals? Kid learning to drive today have never heard of arm signals for turning, How soon will it run into a car backing out of a parking spot when the driver is trying for an emergency stop and the pedalers are trying to gain speed.

overjoy 7 years, 10 months ago

Do you not think that every one of these issues Stone has thought of and considered? Duh it's only going to run during the warmer months, duh we can all walk or ride our own bike downtown, duh someone can get hurt and sued- people can get sued for slipping on a bar floor on someone's vomit! And even dumber things than that....

Of course we can get a party bus with a dumb stripper pole, haven't we all played that game?. This is something completely different, unique, and more involved than a party bus or a limo. There's only a few other cities with them because they have only been available through one guy in the US for about a two years now. Minneapolis just purchased their 6th one this year because business is doing very well. And you don't just have to go downtown.... Did anyone check out the website?

The people that get it, get it. Can't hate on Lawrence letting a group of party people ride around on a huge bike? You haters just don't have enough friends to go for a ride..... Guess it's not for you.

suzieq1216 7 years, 10 months ago

I get it and get that its an unique idea and that could help it become popular but I also see some problems with it. First the price $280 to pedal yourself on a basic pedal car is a little steep, the ones in Minnesota can have alcohol on-board so I can see a higher price for them. It also mentions food and non-alcoholic drinks does that come included, extra cost, or bring your own. Lawrence is a college town and there are alot of cash strapped college students. Second it says they can pick 4 locations and stay at the locations for about 20 mins, really that is not giving you enough time to hang out and have fun at the locations basically you get in the door then have to turn right around and leave. Third does this thing have proper headlights/taillights, what's going to happen at night how are other drivers going to see it, and see the arm signals for turns? Fourth what happens if a thunderstorm suddenly pops up and you are caught in it, the website says it doesn't go out if it's really raining, but if your already out and get caught in it will they refund your money? Finally what if most of your group gets tired of pedaling and your late back are you going to be charged? He probably has thought of these issues and that's why Lawrence approved him, but many of us would like to know the specific details of it. This would be a good tourist attraction to see Lawrence in the day time, but I would have safety concerns about it bar hopping at night, again with the lighting issue and other drivers seeing it, and some that go to bar's get completely wasted how are they suppose to pedal like that? Also this is an open vehicle how are they going to keep a completely wasted person from falling off?

Brad Maestas 7 years, 10 months ago

Alright all you negative Nancys. Luke has been a good friend of mine for many years. We've played a lot of music together as well. He's a helluva multi-instrumentalist, composer and audio engineer. I no longer live in Lawrence (I'm now in NYC) but I do come back twice a year since I moved away and I love seeing the city grow and change. I think this is a great addition to the things the city has to offer. Let's not live up to the stereotypes coasters give us and get out of our comfortable little routines once in a while. Did you know that in Japan, they strive to eat at least 100 different foods every week? I don't know about you but I think diversity is a great thing. I'm sure Luke will answer questions as they arise. I wonder if he'll even answer questions directly here in the comments. This is a brand new business venture so of course they're not going to have a 100-item FAQ to answer every single question you may have. Give them some time to iron the kinks out.

suzieq1216 7 years, 10 months ago

I think diversity is a great thing, and I actually think this is a pretty good idea and a neat contraption but i'm not sure about marketing it as a bar hopping vehicle. I know you have to sign a waiver but I have concern about the completely drunk people that will be riding this, if they are so drunk they can barely walk how are they suppose to stay on this thing. I also have concern for other driver's seeing this vehicle at night making stops and turns. I think this would be a great tour vehicle in the day to see Lawrence, many people pay to take unique tours like this. Another place where this vehicle would work, is a park/ lake, people could rent these and pedal around and see the scenery. Many lakes have those paddle boats for rent this could be a similar option for them. Also a zoo might be an option for a vehicle like this, it would give people a unique way to see the zoo. I can see a market for this type of business i'm just not sure bar hopping is the right way to go. I could see problems arising from drunk people riding this thing, like falling off and getting hurt. Or a drunk person jumping off this thing because they see a hot girl walking down the street. Or as someone below was concerned about uninvited drunks hopping on. I think this could be a hit it just depends on how people respond to it, but I see it working more as a tour vehicle unless Kansas changes the law and allows alcohol on-board.

bkreed1960 7 years, 10 months ago

Ask him if people are still saying Yay in a month or so when they are stuck behind this contraption time after time. How much insurance is he going to need for this because it's an accident waiting to happen?

irvan moore 7 years, 10 months ago

i would be somewhat concerned about unpaid, uninvited drunks hopping on as it goes down the street late at night.

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