Amsterdam Beer Bikes bring together some of the city’s best-loved things: cycling, friends and merriment. So it is no surprise these parties with pedal power are a huge hit, as tourists and locals alike enjoy convivial al fresco drinks on the move, touring the city from the comfort of their bar stool. To date, over 250000 people have enjoyed the quirky thrill of the mobile bar and the existence of 4 Beer Bar operators in the city demonstrate what a popular attraction it is.
But sadly the Mayor of Amsterdam has recently launched an attack on the Beer Bike concept and is threatening to ban this popular source of pleasure in downtown areas of the city. Labelling them a “nuisance”, the Mayor is planning an illegal ‘ghettoization’ of Beer Bikes that would banish them to the fringes of the city and force many operators to close. However the current operators have been operating legally for over 10 years, and the proposed ban will be fought in court.
There are two things in question here: the Beer Bike as a mode of transport, and the Beer Bike as a stage for anti-social behaviour. The operators have taken note in the past of complaints and made plenty of compromises and changes to make sure everyone has a good time, locals and participants alike. They are constantly working hard to minimise disturbance to locals, meet council requirements and to keep everything wholesome and fun.
Even the Council acknowledges that Beer Bike operators have “taken responsibility” since the last review: drivers are now better trained, the journey times have been shortened, routes have changed and there’s no more music. As a result, complaints fell drastically.
Less than 4 complaints a month does not seem to be sufficient grounds for a ban. This is why companies like FunAmsterdam and the 3 others will fight the proposed ban. “This challenge by the Mayor does not take several legal criteria into account and does not meet the requirements that it needs to.”, in a press release by the companies yesterday.
The operators have come up with an alternative plan for the council, which will limit any nuisance the bikes might pose. We are awaiting a response from the Council.
“We have always been very responsive to making changes, for the good of the city, but this is a step too far.”
“The main reasons the Mayor has a bee in his bonnet are traffic congestion, shouting, and drinking in alcohol-free zones. There are plenty of other things in the city that receive far more complaints and are far more bothersome to locals and visitors alike. We feel Beer Bikes are targeted as they are the most visible and the easiest target.”
Anti-social behaviour is part of any city’s nightlife and boat life – sometimes annoying for residents, but there is little you can do when the people are strangers and the moment is fleeting. The Beer Bikes however, are trackable and an easy target for complaints.
“If the Beer Bikes go”, they point out. “The noise and rowdiness will remain; this is not something that can be changed with an attack on a mode of transport.”
The report also highlights the difficulty of reprimanding groups of people, stating ‘Action against several groups of people would place a considerable burden on the enforcement capacity in the city’. Yet groups, and often groups far rowdier than the Beer Bike users, have always been part of Amsterdam’s social scape.
“Again, we would point to other sources of anti-social behavior that are equally hard to enforce such as boats”. “Will they receive a blanket ban too? Perhaps we should limit people to visit the city in groups of only 3 – would that be a solution?”
Amsterdam is a small city that people love for its friendly atmosphere and community spirit. But like in small cities, people can sometimes can rub each other up the wrong way and it’s important to work together to come up with solutions that work for everyone – not just ban the thing that brings enjoyment to many people. The operators have one message for the Mayor – as the Brits say, ‘On yer bike!’