A small win for fun was won at Toronto City Hall this week. And when I say small, I mean small. After two years of pandemic closures and despite tons of municipal red tape, the verdict is in: pedal pubs are rolling in a town near you.
On Wednesday morning, city council voted 21-2 in favor of a pilot program that will see the multi-passenger bike/bar hybrid operate in downtown Toronto. The catch, of course, is that due to provincial law, passengers won’t be allowed to drink alcohol on the craft (unlike in several US and European cities where it’s long been a popular attraction) .
This means that the name pedal pub is a misnomer in Toronto. In this city, it’s more like a pedal table: the kind of people sitting next to several other people while an employee of the Pedal Pub Toronto (pay is about $19 an hour plus tip if you are interested) guides you to various real pubs in the area, Steam Whistle Brewery and Northern Maverick Brewing Company among them. In other words, the pilot will allow passengers to embark on a sort of downtown pedal pub crawl (exact routes are still being finalized by the city; once approved, Pedal Pub Toronto will be officially launched).
Lyle Jones, co-owner of the Pedal Pub Toronto, explained it this way: “Right now you can’t drink on our bikes, but you’re never more than two or three songs away from the next bar we stop at. »
Speaking of songs, Jones said passengers are allowed to play their own music on the vehicles, as long as it doesn’t contain explicit lyrics.
“People have songs they want to hear, we’re totally open to that, as long as it’s socially appropriate. You can’t blast songs that have swear words.
(As I said: a small win for fun.)
“I think it’s a fantastic thing for the city, especially after the last two years,” Jones told me shortly after council approved the program on Wednesday. “It will allow people to go out and see their friends. It will bring a lot of fun to the city for both locals and tourists.
Jones and his wife Aleksandra Burke, co-owner of the company, would have been in bad shape had the board voted against the program or voted to delay it for months. “We wouldn’t have had a business running, we wouldn’t have had any income, the staff we hired wouldn’t have had jobs,” he said.
It is indeed remarkable that an innovative idea such as this should come to fruition in Toronto. In a previous column, I wrote that this is the city council’s way of looking for good ideas in oblivion or in the next century. Honestly, I assumed the first Torontonians to hitchhike in a pedal pub would be my great-grandchildren after cars were banned due to climate change. I was mistaken.
Unless the city’s transportation experts take millions of years to approve the routes (which I’ve been led to believe they won’t), it could be me or you rolling down Bremner Boulevard in July, the wind in our hair, a clean version of a rap song blaring from the loudspeakers and a soft drink in our hands.
Com. Josh Matlow (Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul’s), a staunch proponent of pedal pubs, is decidedly unimpressed by this latest image. “The vote to allow pedal pubs that can’t even serve drinks is not a good test of whether Toronto City Council has suddenly become cool or not. It’s like being grateful that your parents kept their shirts on when they crashed your school dance.
Matlow is understandably frustrated with the political prudery surrounding this issue and many others. He’s a long-time champion of legal drinking in city parks: sadly a failure. He’s also right that the city council’s vote to approve a trial of a dry bike ride isn’t exactly groundbreaking.
But these days, I’m inclined to celebrate any small victory that happens in a city prone to serial failures. Pedal pubs today, functional water fountains tomorrow.
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Expect some clean good fun now that pedal pubs are making a dry run on the streets of Toronto – Reuters News in France and abroad
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