City to welcome quadricycles with restrictions

Rules governing commercial bikes expected to go into effect next month

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published September 23, 2015

 Quadricycles could hit the low-speed streets of Royal Oak as soon as next month after city commissioners address regulations for the commercial bikes. The commissioners were scheduled to do so Sept. 21, after press time.

Quadricycles could hit the low-speed streets of Royal Oak as soon as next month after city commissioners address regulations for the commercial bikes. The commissioners were scheduled to do so Sept. 21, after press time.

Photo provided by the City of Royal Oak

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ROYAL OAK — Commissioners were expected to approve on Monday a newly created ordinance governing the use of quadricycles in the downtown area.

The issue was expected to be adopted after the Review’s press time the night of Sept. 21. The ordinance was expected to go into effect the first week of October.

The first reading of the multi-passenger, commercial bike ordinance passed Sept. 14, though commissioners asked for some tweaks before taking a final vote for adoption at a subsequent meeting.

Requested changes to the ordinance included setting age limits for the quadricycle operators, requiring that drivers possess an operator and chauffeur license, and enforcing a potential limitation on the number of the passenger bikes that could operate at the same time in the central business district “based on the perceived need to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.”

“I’m trying real hard not to be an old fogy about this, but I really have concerns about how this is going to impact traffic congestion in the downtown,” City Commissioner Patricia Paruch said at the Sept. 14 meeting. “I know they operate successfully in other communities, but those communities where they operate seem to have a much larger footprint. Our downtown squashes an awful lot of activity into a relatively small space.”

Interim City Attorney Mark Liss said there have been four inquiries into operating a quadricycle in Royal Oak. He said Detroit has one in operation, and he checked with Grand Rapids and Traverse City, and neither community reported problems.

City Manager Don Johnson said he believed the market demand would take care of any congestion issues.

“I’ll be frankly surprised if there is enough demand to support one of these,” Johnson said. “I’ll be flabbergasted if there is enough demand to support two. I don’t think there is any chance that we’re going to get 20 or 40 of them.”

Johnson said the city did allow pedal-powered rickshaws — a  venture that came and went very quickly because of lack of demand.

Liss pointed out that the city allows horse-drawn carriages, but there are none operating downtown.

Under state law, quadricycles are not allowed to operate on streets with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or more.

“They can cross that road, but they cannot operate on that road,” Liss said.

The quadricycles also may not operate on the sidewalk.

The commercial bikes generally travel at 5-10 mph and are subject to all traffic and parking laws.

The commission’s largest concern — banning alcohol — was addressed with the first ordinance reading.

“Under legislation passed this year and signed by the governor just recently with immediate effect, it allows for alcohol consumption on quadricycles unless city commission or local legislative body prohibits it,” said Liss. “It also allows the local legislative body to prohibit operation of the quadricycles in the commercial business district, in the downtown area and areas next to waterfront and some other minor areas that don’t apply to Royal Oak.”

The new ordinance prohibits the transportation, consumption or possession of alcohol on the commercial quadricycle following a recommendation by Chief of Police Corrigan O’Donohue that allowing adult beverages on the bike would be a bad idea.

“The quadricycles themselves I don’t really have any opposition to, but the use of alcohol on them I am opposed to,” he said last month. “We have enough trouble with the party buses, and there’s a door and a driver right before you get out.”

City officials said anyone in violation of the ordinance would be guilty of a civil infraction.

The issue initially came before the commission in August when a pedal pub — a quadricycle that would also allow up to 15 riders to drink beer or wine while riding in Royal Oak — expressed interest in operating in the city.

Requests to operate pedal pubs were beginning to come into City Hall after Gov. Rick Snyder passed legislation July 15 allowing the bikes.

The majority of the commission agreed that having the quadricycles would be fine without the alcohol.

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