Portlanders are known for two things: their love of all things hoppy and brewed and their love of bicycles. Recently, several bicycle-friendly pubs have opened throughout the city. Additionally, the Portland Pedalounge, a 14-person bicycle, will soon take to the streets to guide Portlanders on tours from bar to bar.
Portlanders are known for two things: their love of all things hoppy and brewed and their love of bicycles. Recently, several bicycle-friendly pubs have opened throughout the city. Additionally, the Portland Pedalounge, a 14-person bicycle, will soon take to the streets to guide Portlanders on tours from bar to bar. Simultaneously, new laws are emerging that punish bikers who cycle under the influence. Is condoning such an activity good for Portland’s cycle culture?
In many states, drunken bikers can only be charged with public intoxication, but in Oregon, we go the Full Monty. Three years ago, a man got on his bicycle after having a “few too many.” The results of his action took him all the way to the Oregon Court of Appeals, where it was decided that not only was drinking and biking illegal, but additionally, being convicted of a PUI (pedaling under the influence) also counted toward the “three strikes” rule that allows a driver’s license to be revoked after three DUIs.
Where do all these cycle pubs fit into the equation? In Bend, the Bend CyclePub is a large multi-person cycle that takes riders on booked tours across the city to various breweries and pubs. Additionally, riders have the option of bringing their own beer and wine along for the ride. Such a cycle is only powered by the pedaling of the riders, and a designated employee “driver” pilots the whale of a bike.
Riders are required to sign a form releasing CyclePub of any legal obligation while they are riding, yet they can still do significant harm to themselves or others. The goal of the ride is to visit the local pubs, and it is therefore assumed that several drinks will be imbibed. Drunken riders can be kicked off the tour at any time. Such vehicles allow for an eco-friendly tour of local pubs in a controlled cycling environment.
Many cyclists argue that because a rider can only really cause harm to himself when riding under the influence, PUIs should not exist. Yet a drunken cyclist can easily cause an accident between two cars or harm a nearby pedestrian. Portland already boasts a high amount of bicycle accidents—a study by OHSU revealed that one in five cyclists will be involved in an accident. Additionally, five percent of those accidents required the rider to seek medical attention.
A larger study by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that all cyclists are 12 times more likely to be involved in an accident than an automobile. When alcohol is thrown into the mix, one can only see that number rise.
Some argue that cycling actually helps burn alcohol quicker. This is untrue. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission states that time is the only real factor that affects how intoxicated someone is—this means waiting it out and sobering up before getting in a car or on a bike. The myth that eating or exercising will burn off alcohol doesn’t hold up in the eyes of the law.
Others argue that because you do not need a driver’s license in order to operate a bicycle, the laws should not fall under the same standards. While there are many solutions to this problem, such as designing new standards and BAC levels for bikers, as the current laws stand, it’s better to be careful about drinking and biking.
For bikes to be seen as a responsible and respectable form of transportation, riders needs to follow the rules of the road—this means following the laws regarding drinking and biking. Bike-in bars should be held to the same standards as any other drinking establishment: if riders insist on trying to cycle home when they are intoxicated, they need to be punished.
While wonderful in theory, bike bars and cycle pubs need to be cautious about their choices regarding drinking and biking. Not only could they harm their customers but they could harm their reputation and the reputation of cycling in general. The streets should be free of vehicles operated by drivers who are under the influence, motor operated or otherwise.
Biking is an eco-friendly and wonderful alternative to driving, but it carries the same obligations. Whether you’re behind the wheel or on a set of wheels, remember to drink responsibly. ?