by LAWSON ROBINSON
At the last Rochester City Council meeting, a resident brought complaints to the board specifically aimed at Rochester Pedal Ride, a pedal-pub business that hosts group events and travels around the downtown Rochester area. The resident was none too pleased with what she saw as drunken behavior and complained they were holding up traffic on main roads.
Rochester Pedal Ride co-owners Dr. Carrie Palazzolo-Hourani and Bryan Lindstrom attended the September 25 council meeting to hash out some of these issues.
Bryan is a teacher in the Troy and Rochester area. He lives in Rochester Hills with his wife Jamie, and all of their children attend Rochester Schools. Carrie is an Emergency Medical Physician for McLaren Hospital and her husband Adam is the owner of Crunch Fitness – they both live in Rochester Hills as well.
Jamie and Bryan moved into a house behind Carrie and Adam, and shortly there after they all became close friends. All of them had been on pedal rides in other cities and thought it would be great for the area if they could bring this type of experience to Rochester.
Together, the couples purchased a pedal bike in 2016 from the company Pedalbiz, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Pedal Bike is comprised of car, marine, and bicycle parts. The pedal bike industry can be found in other cities such as Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, and Detroit.
Bryan stepped to the podium to discuss the routes taken by the Rochester Pedal Ride. He made sure to note that they spent a lot of time going over planning purposes and even worked with Police Chief Schettenhelm on their routes, that cover roughly three square miles.
“We heard last meeting about some of the issues and complaints and I know some of you live along the routes. Every time we have had a complaint or a problem brought to us by the police we try to respond fairly quickly.”
Bryan then brought up a picture of their routes throughout the downtown Rochester area. “So the first thing was staying off of University.” The pedal bike will pick up and unload people in the Mr. B’s parking lot. Mr. B’s has even reserved a special parking spot so that the pedal ride can have space to do so.
The pedal ride starts at Mr. B’s, travels down the back alley, cuts over by 2nd street, and down, and underneath the bridge. “When they get to us, we say ‘hey what are you guys interested in?’ I would say about a quarter of our rides do not even go to any of the restaurants. Most people are interested in going to Sanders for ice cream, some bring snacks for while they are on the bike.”
Bryan then addressed the issues of the pedal bike holding up traffic. “As we come back, we are really only on two consecutive blocks at a time. Part of the conversation was backing up traffic, and I know that issue was brought up at the last meeting. From my experience, talking to drivers, we are talking about at most four cars. We have not noticed or seen anything more than that and we have not had any complaints from the police about that.”
He continued to discuss their routes in detail. “When you make this left hand turn at 4th Street here, all the traffic going southbound is actually cut off at Rochester Road. By the time traffic gets moving we are almost to 3rd street, so we are only on it for one block before we turn right to get off the main road.”
Bryan himself counted 14 houses, not including apartments, that the Pedal Bike passes by. He also added that he is open to conversations about changing the route.
Daldin allowed the public to have a comment, with one elderly woman stating that maybe it will help to have an ordinance to help regulate this issue, much like Traverse City does.
Council member Cuthbertson spoke to his experience as a resident interacting with the pedal bike. Even though he has children that could be woken up by the pedal bike ride, he does not believe the issue is personal. Cuthbertson told Bryan and Carrie he thought it was quite wise to load and unload at Mr. B’s where they are isolated in a business area away from residents.
Daldin noted that she herself lives along the routes and was candid about the issue. “I would not be honest if I did not say that if you live in town, there is noise, that is part of the deal. But there also comes a time where people would like their quite time.” Mayor Daldin was opposed to an ordinance as she believes it can be dicey bringing that type of legislature to a downtown area. She also thanked the owners for coming to the meeting and taking this issue seriously.
Rob Ray offered some comedic relief with the idea that they could turn off their music and speakers when going through a residential area and then turning it back on once out of the area.
However, one member of the city council was not so positive about the Rochester Pedal Bike Ride scenario. Council member Bikson was not as high on the idea as his colleagues. “I spend a lot of time playing tennis at the park and you see lots of families there. You have coming by, what is in my mind, a frat-sorority bus coming by screaming ‘party!’ It just doesn’t seem very appropriate to me. You go near the bar areas that is fine, but you get to the residential areas and I’m less of a fan of it.”
Cuthbertson book ended the conversation with an attention to detail. He wants to avoid repeating history and would like to get some details on what can be done differently so this issue will not continue to repeat itself, as they look for a solution in the near future.