City Will Consider Changing Open-Container Law

After hearing from a company that wants to bring a pedal-powered party vehicle to Lakeland, city commissioners asked their staff to look into the possibility of carving exceptions out of the city’s open-container laws.

Swan Pedal Company plans three routes for their 16-passenger bicycle – six weekend downtown bar crawls and one monthly coffee crawl each in downtown and Dixieland. The bicycle vehicle with optional electric assist will be driven by an employee. 

The company’s owners — Leslie Raysin, Stephanie Lewis, and Paige Conatser — recently gave a presentation to the commission outlining their plans.

Under the proposal, riders could eat or drink at the various stops and then re-board the vehicle. Riders may bring their own sealed drinks to consume on the tour, but those drinks must remain on the bicycle. Riders would not be allowed to bring alcoholic drinks back onto the vehicle after purchasing them at the stops.

Similar businesses operate in St. Petersburg and Sanford.

The current city ordinance would prevent alcoholic drinks from being consumed on the bicycle. The Swan Pedal Co. is seeking an amendment to allow open containers of non-distilled alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, hard cider, etc.) on the company’s vehicles.

The company owners claimed their business would bring entertainment and additional business revenues to downtown. City commissioners asked questions about traffic impacts.

The commission gave “thumbs up” approval to ask its staff to look into the implications of changing the open-container ordinance and work on the legal language needed for any changes.

Swan Pedal Co. owners address the City Commission (video screenshot)

Commissioner Don Selvage suggested involving the police, traffic operations, risk management and community development departments in assessing a change in the city’s open-container laws.

Selvage described the change as “worth pursuing,” but urged caution changing the city’s decades-old ban on open alcohol containers.

The company would run three bar routes nightly on Fridays and Saturdays. Coffee crawls would take place on two Saturdays each month. In addition, the vehicle could be booked for private events such as company team building or birthday, bachelor or bachelorette parties.

The owners shared their plans with Julie Townsend, executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, who said she supports the idea.

“It’s a fun, different way of experiencing the city without exerting too much of your own energy,” said Townsend, referring to the bicycle’s electric motor assist. “Anything that we can add that provides a new and different experience than you can’t get anywhere else in Lakeland is definitely beneficial.”

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