Beer Bikes Banned By Bavarian Buzzkills

If you haven't experienced the joys of peddling around Germany with 15 of your closest friends while enjoying several liters of Munich's finest, you're too late.

If you haven’t experienced the joys of peddling around Germany with 15 of your closest friends while enjoying several liters of Munich’s finest, you’re too late.

Spiegel (“Cities Put the Brakes on ‘Beer Bikes’“):

 Today a bicycle can have four wheels, a drive shaft, weigh more than two tons and have a length of 5 meters (around 16 feet). It can also achieve a noise level equivalent to that of an oncoming sports car. At least that’s the case when up to 16 tipsy jokers are sitting on the rolling pub known as a “Bierbike,” accompanied by loud music and 20 liters (42 US pints) of beer, hindering traffic at the excruciatingly slow pace of, at most, 10 kilometers per hour (6 miles per hour). This scene plays out regularly in 36 cities across Germany, annoying drivers and residents. Some cities even have variations on the idea. Frankfurt has an “Äpplerbike,” on which the local apple cider is served, while the southern city of Freiburg has one that serves wine.

YouTube features a number of videos taken during the wild rides. One shows 11 intoxicated English tourists tippling through Berlin on a rainy day wearing reproductions of Russian and East German army caps purchased from street vendors . They make an enormous racket singing bawdy songs, then the barkeep tears off his shirt. At red lights, they dance on the Berlin streets.

Munich and Düsseldorf Get Tough

Whether the occasion is Father’s Day (a holiday when German men traditionally get drunk), Carnival, Christopher Street Day or a bachelor’s party, getting tanked while cycling on Bierbikes has become increasingly popular. But not everyone is amused. One Facebook group called “Youth against Bierbikes” has some 581 members who scorn the vehicles as “madness on wheels” and seem genuinely concerned about their spread across the nation. “Ten totally wasted jackasses drive these massive things through Germany’s inner cities, yet any driver who fails a breathalyzer test is treated like a felon,” one comment reads. The group leader, who calls himself “Phil Lip,” has even suggested an International Anti-Bierbike Day, while group member Irmina Kaniewski says “the world is calling for the abolition of these pedalling village idiots.”

But now the cities of Munich and Düsseldorf have taken a tough line on Bierbikes. This August, officials in the Bavarian capital Munich — whose residents are known both for their love of beer and bikes — banned Bierbikes on the city’s “public streets, paths and squares.” Düsseldorf already banned them in 2010, but remains locked in an ugly lawsuit with the tour operator that has reached all the way to North Rhine-Westphalia’s upper administrative court in Münster, ending for the time being with a favourable ruling for the beer lovers. Further proceedings are scheduled for November.

DC doesn’t have anything quite like this, although they do have bicycle taxis, rickshaw-like devices in which some yahoo takes tourists around in a children’s toy at low speed, blocking traffic lanes during rush hour. At least in the German version, there’s alcohol.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Fog says:

    I think we can close the Patent Office now. Everything that needs to be invented has been invented.
    I can see why folks wouldn’t want them on public streets, but couldn’t they just cruise around the parks?
    This vehicle cannot be allowed to die.

  2. john personna says:

    Who says ethanol fails as a transportation fuel!

  3. Franklin says:

    I don’t think the part about drinking while driving would go over very well with the nutcases at MADD, even at 10 kph.

  4. Jeff Q. says:

    @Franklin: They have them in Minneapolis and the driver and bartender are both employees of the company who owns them and they don’t imbibe. I saw it with my own eyes there this summer. Also heard they have them in Austin.

    Sorry for the late reply on this, saw it in my feed reader a while back and forgot it until now.