By Macy Wilbanks
CHATTANOOGA, TENN (mocsnews.com) – Have you ever had an intoxicated middle aged woman yell “woo” at you from a moving bar? Welcome to one of the four major cities in Tennessee, where our cultured nightlife is plagued by the 21st century invention of the pedal tavern.
The infamous pedal tavern is a bar on top of multiple bicycles that patrons pedal down the street. The mobile bars run in the downtown areas of Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.
These party bikes are popular with bachelorettes, country music stars, sports fans and tourists alike looking for a unique way to experience the respective city.
Some despise it, some enjoy it, and some don’t even know it exists.
Reed Collum, a Chattanooga nightlifer and Nashville native said, “I believe the pedal tavern seems like an enticing adventure to those who have never experienced it second hand, but as a bystander- it’s just plain annoying. Obscene music is blared at an extreme volume, which disrupts the quieter, serene parts of Chattanooga that our town is known for. I’ve also witnessed someone throwing up off the side of it, which was as lovely as it sounds.”
Because of the requirement that patrons must pedal to make the contraption move, it operates at a very slow pace and can easily back up traffic. To combat this issue, Nashville has created local restrictions to prevent the taverns from operating at rush hour traffic times therefore, limiting the number of disgruntled citizens.
Despite the negative feelings. the businesses are a tourist activity and generate revenue for the cities they operate in. According to ZoomInfo a collection site of business-related data, the Nashville Pedal Tavern accumulated $6 million in revenue in the first and second quarters of 2021.
The Chattanooga version of the tavern actively supports local bars by taking the partygoers on a bar crawl of sorts, stopping at multiple bars across the Southside area of downtown. This does add to the local economy and provides visibility to the establishments.
L’Erin Chidester, manager of a local hotel and Chattanooga nightlife lover spoke about the negatives of the bar crawl experience, “I don’t think they fit in here in Chattanooga. They back up traffic and the revenue does not outweigh the inconvenience. While the people of Chatt certainly love drinking outside, the peddles n pints are just disruptive and unorganized. They partner with various bars/ restaurants to make stops along the trail. The stops that they make are not scheduled so the establishment are often bombarded with loud and obnoxious people looking for a single drink before loading back up. This quick moment of revenue often disrupts the other patrons that are spending more money. The path peddled is often market and Main Street, two of the busiest streets in Chattanooga.”
Rachel Badillo, the brand ambassador for the Kinley Hotel Chattanooga kindly stated, “we believe they are a fun way for locals and travelers to explore the town. We enjoy watching them ride by and think they are a lot of fun.”
Legal issues have plagued the industry in the past few years. The Tennessean published an article describing an incident where a woman’s foot was injured during a ride due to loud music and an inattentive driver. In another article reported by the Tennessean two Nashville pedal tavern-type businesses were involved in a civil court case over copyright issues in 2017.
Despite many differing public opinions, it does not look like pedal taverns are leaving our great state anytime soon. Until then give the pedal taverns a chance…or don’t.