PHOENIX — What has at least four wheels, 16 to 28 pedals and can be operated by both leg and electric power?
According to state lawmakers, that’s a limousine.
Legislation given preliminary House approval Thursday would require state licensing of “motorized quadricycles.” They would have to be built by a licensed manufacturer and operated by someone qualified to drive a limo.
Never mind that it may look — and operate — more like a bar on wheels.
At issue is the increasing popularity of these vehicles that are taking hold in some downtown areas as an alternative to walking from one pub to another.
They also are known as party bikes, pub crawlers and beer bikes. And the company that sells them promotes them for businesses hoping to provide customers with a unique experience.
What they also are, according to Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, is illegal for operating on the road.
“They are not classified as a vehicle,” she said. “It’s not a motorcycle, it’s not a bicycle. It’s a new kind of vehicle.”
SB 1201, given preliminary House approval Thursday, classifies the vehicle as a limousine.
“Limousines have to go through certain regulations that have to do with insurance, requirements as to who the driver is, things like that,” she said. “If they are classified as a limousine, they have to follow the same rules to make sure that all of these passengers are safe and the vehicle’s being maintained safely.”
That, she said, is the reason it should not be classified as a bicycle — even a bicycle built for two.
But Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, said the limousine classification has another implication: It means that the “passengers” who are pedaling it around on public streets can be drinking — and drunk — just as if they were in the back of a more traditional limousine.
But Robert Mayer, president of Tucson-based Pedal Crawler LLC, said that ability to drink is precisely one of the selling points.
Mayer said his vehicles, manufactured in Benson, can actually seat 14 people, plus the driver. He said they’re usually rented out, like limos, by people who want to treat themselves and their guests to an unusual way of getting around.
And that ability to bring along your own beer while doing that, he said, is part of the experience. Mayer said that’s no more dangerous than drinking in the back of a more traditional stretch limo.
“They’re not in actual physical control of the vehicle,” he said. “They’re just sitting there and pedaling.”
The control, said Mayer, is in the hands of the driver who controls not just the steering but also the brakes.
“So even if they tried to pedal and run a stop sign, they wouldn’t be able to,” he said.
But if they don’t want to pedal, the vehicle has a small electric motor. And, regardless of power source, the legislation sets the top speed at 15 miles an hour.
Mayer said the going rate for a fully loaded quadricycle runs $350 for two hours.
He said having to operate as a limousine means being bound by other rules for those vehicles. That means booking ahead and not being able to jump on and off.