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City may get a pubcycle

Given the popularity of craft beer in the area, this might have been inevitable.


The Hendersonville City Council on Thursday will take up a proposed city ordinance granting a pubcycle franchise to HVL Pedal & Brews, operated by Adam Justus of East Flat Rock. The Pubcycle, which the ordinance describes as a pedal-assisted motorized vehicle, would be authorized to operate a Brewery Route, Downtown Tour Route, History Cemetery Tour Route and a Special Events Tour Route. Pubcycles generally seat 12 or more riders who provide pedal power for the vehicle while sipping beer. The proposed Brewery Tour Route could include stops at Dry Falls, Sanctuary, Triskelion, Southern Appalachian and Guidon breweries. 

In an email, Justus described the HVL Pedal & Brews trolley as "an extraordinary 14-person pedal powered (electric motor assisted) vehicle like no other." It would include seats for 10 pedalers, four non-pedalers and a conductor that navigates downtown Hendersonville "with a healthy dose of humor, style and entertainment." Tours are BYOB (beer, hard cider or wine).

Adams has created four tours and has already made up a brochure describing them:

  • Pedal to the Pints is an hour and a half "brew taking" experience, starting at a craft brewery with two taproom intermissions along the way.
  •  Pedal Your Hendo Off! is a shorter 45-minute tour showing"the lights and sights of Downtown Hendersonville."
  • Pedal Backwards, a 45-minute non-alcoholic ride, offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings to see the historic sights, buildings and Oakdale Cemetery.

Justus also plans to offer 1½-hour tours for wedding parties, corporate outings, birthdays or other occasions.

City Manager John Connet said the city's development assistant director, Susan Frady, had been researching the request for several months to "figure out how to regulate that and understand the animal and make sure we had some kind of public safety control." Police officials were also involved in giving input.

"We contacted other cities to see how they dealt with it because it’s an interesting business venture," he said. "How are you able to brown bag on a bicycle?"

HVL Pedal & Brews would be similar to other pub-hopping tours including those operating in Boone and Asheville. The Amazing Pubcycle in Asheville has 10 pedaling and three non-pedaling seats, allows people to bring wine (boxed is preferred) and canned beer on board. The 90-minute tour is $25 each and includes two 15-20 minute stops. Pubcycle employees are not allowed to sell or serve alcoholic beverages, according to the company's website.

"My understanding is there would be a variety of tours that people can jump on," Connet said. "Not everyone wants to go to the brewery. It's like any business venture. It has to have some variety to it. All I can say is it's interesting, we hope it's successful and it's interesting that it’s coming to Hendersonville. Who would have thought it 10 years ago?"

Justus, who is assistant chief of the Henderson County Rescue Squad, said if the city council OKs the franchise agreement he plans to start the service in November. The pubcycle is on order and should be delivered in October, he said.

The proposed ordinance sets out numerous restrictions on what it calls a trolley bike tour service. Among the regulations, the pubcycle:

  • Could not operate on street with a speed limit higher than 35 mph.
  • Could operate non-alcoholic (historic route) tours from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and alcoholic beverage tours from noon to 1 a.m. It could not operate during festivals that close Main Street.
  • Would have to be licensed and tagged by the NCDOT as a "slow-moving vehicle" generally traveling 7-10 mph. The pubcycle is 16 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet high, the proposed ordinance says, and must have headlights, taillights and turn signals.
  • Must comply with all city regulations and state ABC laws pertaining to alcoholic beverages.