Jan. 3, 2018 — During its first meeting of the year, the Birmingham City Council approved an ordinance allowing passengers of pedal buses to possess and consume alcoholic beverages.
It was the only item to receive significant discussion during the relatively short meeting, which was marked by the absence of several councilors due to illness.
Mayor Randall Woodfin also was absent from the meeting, the first he’s missed since his inauguration, to attend the swearing-in of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in Washington, D.C. Cedric Sparks, Woodfin’s chief of staff, said Woodfin also would spend the day meeting with the state’s “entire congressional delegation,” with the intention of building stronger relationships between the city and Republican lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. Woodfin has established relationships with Alabama’s two Democratic representatives in Washington, Jones and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell.
But back at Birmingham’s City Hall, the stakes were considerably smaller-scale. The ordinance regarding pedal bus tours affects only two companies, Birmingham Pedal Tours and Downtown Pedal Tours.
The city approved the operation of pedal buses — multi-passenger vehicles powered by passengers and steered by a designated driver — in April 2017. The ordinance approved Wednesday was “a relatively simple change to an existing ordinance,” said Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, that had been requested by pedal bus companies based on customer demand.
Assistant city attorney Julie Barnard clarified that, outside of designated entertainment districts, passengers would be unable to get off pedal buses and walk around with their drinks because of the city’s existing public drinking laws. Uptown Birmingham currently is the city’s only designated entertainment district, but Barnard said that, hypothetically, the ordinance would allow for pedal buses to “go from entertainment district to entertainment district” once more areas are designated as such.