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 pedalhopper.com. You can also call 856-TOUR.