Every sos this side of hallelujah wants to inflict his money making idea on poor Soulard. Comes now the BarCycle, described on its website as “Way more fun than your typical party bus - the St. Louis BarCycle is a 16 passenger party on wheels! Get your crew together and navigate the bars in Soulard on this pedal driven bar crawl machine!”
Beyond the exclamation points, this is a pedal driven noise and trash maker, and it works best when it is filled with drunks, according to the owner. Just what we need, pedaling the streets of our neighborhood. It must be historic, just like greed. The charge is a reasonable $150 an hour, for a two hour tour of Soulard bars. Just think, for $300 you and your friends can make pests of yourselves. That’s cheaper than buying a motorcycle and disconnecting the muffler.
Fortunately, after running around the neighborhood for a while, it was decided that this infestation needed some sort of license. Ah, the St. Louis Taxicab Commission. Oddly, Alderman Phyllis Young wrote a letter against the BarCycle to Ron Klein, Executive Director, St. Louis Taxicab Commission, dated July 11, 2012, as follows:
Dear Mr. Klein:
I am writing regarding your hearing on July 12th about the St. Louis Barcycle. I have constituents who are concerned about this vehicle operating in the Soulard neighborhood.
I’d like to present a number of the issues I’ve heard about the business.
First, it advertises itself as a ‘barcycle’. People ride the 16 passenger barcycle, drink, socialize, and pedal. Granted the operator doesn’t serve the drinks, but advertises that they are available from bar stops or that coolers are allowed. Unlike a bar where neighboring residents had to sign a petition about the location of a bar this vehicle is mobile and can go past your block at any time. It isn’t like a neighbor having a noisy party once or twice a summer. This vehicle can come by several times in a day or weekend. Any response is solely up to the operator of the barcycle. There is no way to protest the license.
I’ve met with Mr. Lloyd, the business operator. He has agreed to turn the music down on the onboard stereo and to ask his patrons to be quieter. However, if they aren’t in agreement, what recourse does the neighborhood have? Also, whose idea of a reasonable noise level should be the measure?
Mr. Lloyd has agreed that he’ll stay north of Russell after a certain time. However, there are residents there who feel that they have enough challenges dealing with the bars alone in that area. That portion of Soulard has the largest concentration of that type of business. Is it fair to allow a mobile establishment to add to the concerns?
The other issue discussed is the conflict between the vehicle and the overall traffic of the neighborhood. Soulard is quite crowded at particular times----ballgame nites, Saturday Soulard Market shopping, and special events. During those times the streets are filled with pedestrians, cyclists, golf carts, shuttle vehicles, and automobile traffic. Sometimes seniors on those motorized carts are there as well. It can be very congested!
The solution offered is to go down other streets than 9th. Ordinarily that would work; however, those are the streets that visitors are on---- looking for free parking, and they are mostly the residential blocks so that the noise again becomes a factor.
The operator says he can pull over to the side to let other vehicles pass. That’s what the shuttle busses for the bars do now. It’s very difficult to see around them so that passing is already dangerous.
As a Commission you are considering a new vehicle for the City. If this is successful in Soulard will it or another be allowed to operate on Washington Avenue, in the Delmar Loop, along Grand Avenue, or in other popular sections of the City? How would this fit into the traffic patterns for those neighborhoods, and how would the residents and businesses there receive this concept?
I appreciate the rules that Mr. Lloyd has proposed for his operation; however, I cannot support his proposal. I have seen the barcycle operation, and I am not convinced that any rules will make it conducive to the neighborhood. I understand that he has the support of the business association, but I also know that this activity is an enhancement for the bar business. It is in my opinion a detraction from the residential quality of life in Soulard. I believe there’s a delicate balance between the two entities, and I’m working to keep that balance.
I appreciate your consideration of my comments and opinions. I understand that you have the jurisdiction in this matter. I am hopeful that you’ll make a decision that is best for the neighborhood.
Sincerely, Phyllis Young
On July 20, James Rick followed up with another opposition letter to Mr. Klein. He is a card carrying member of the Soulard Restoration Group, a Soulard resident and chair of the Safety Committee, we understand. His letter follows:
Dear Mr. Klein:
We are writing in regard to your upcoming hearing about the St. Louis Barcycle. We are concerned about this vehicle operating in the Soulard neighborhood where we reside, and are writing to oppose granting it a Taxi License.
It advertises itself as a ‘barcycle’ whereby 16 people ride the barcycle, drink, socialize, and pedal. Since the operator has no liquor license he can’t serve the drinks, but advertises that they are available from stops at bars, or that coolers are allowed. Unlike a proposed bar where neighboring residents get to sign a petition about its location, this vehicle is mobile and uses our street, 9th, as its primary route to go north-south and vice versa. 9th Street is flat so it’s not like having a noisy party once or twice a summer. This vehicle can come by several times in a day or weekend. We have no way to protest the abusive use of a (non-existent) liquor license.
Plus, its on-board stereo is noisy, and the drinking patrons can be loud. But if they aren’t in the mood to tone it down, what recourse do we residents have? Also, what is the measure of a reasonable noise level? Do we have to bother the Police (who have far more important matters to attend to) every time a loud group rolls by?
This vehicle can also be in conflict with the overall traffic on 9th Street. With only two lanes for traffic, on busy weekends the street can be filled with pedestrians, cyclists, golf carts, shuttle vehicles, and automobile traffic. Sometimes seniors on those motorized carts are there as well. It’s a recipe for a nasty accident because passing is dangerous!
We’ve heard of a solution offered to go down streets other than 9th. Ordinarily that would work; however, visitors are on all those streets as well, looking for free parking. They are mostly residential (and hilly) blocks, so that the noise again becomes a factor.
As a Commission you are considering a new use for a commercial vehicle within the City. How would this fit into the traffic patterns for other neighborhoods, and how would the residents and businesses there receive this concept? We can also imagine the Police would be none too thrilled about the problems this barcycle would present.
We understand that the owner has the support of the Soulard Business Association, mostly comprised of bar owners who will benefit by increased bar business. Those of us who reside here need to be vigilant about retaining the residential quality of life in Soulard. There’s a delicate balance between these opposing forces, and we are simply asking you to be aware of the concerns outlined above.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our comments and opinions. Our neighbors and we are confident you’ll make a decision that is best for the Soulard neighborhood and its property owners in this City we care so much for.
Sincerely Yours, James W. Rick (and) Jacqueline L. Torno
Well, not wishing to be left out, the Soulard Restoration Group big wigs thought out the issue and decided in favor of the BarCycle. Their letter, dated 7/20/2012, follows:
Dear Dan Lloyd, Phyllis Young and Ron Kline,
The Soulard Restoration Group (SRG) would like to share our support for the BarCycle business in the Soulard neighborhood.
Dan Lloyd has presented his revised operation procedures to our organization. We feel that with the new rules on hours of operation, noise levels, safety, and route, the BarCycle can be an asset to our Soulard neighborhood.
Hopefully, the BarCycle will provide another opportunity for people to see and enjoy all the Soulard neighborhood has to offer. The BarCycle will also raise awareness of the great Soulard establishments.
We believe Dan will address and solve any future issues that may arise.
Sean Cochran, President of The Soulard Restoration Group
Well, we certainly hope that Sean’s letter doesn't settle the issue. After all, the SRG always says: “If you don’t like Mardi Gras, then it’s time to move.” I guess now you just substitute BarCycle for Mardi Gras, and to hell with neighborhood residential assets.
We look forward to the decision of the Taxicab Commission, and we thank our Alderman for displaying some balls, for once.