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Pittsburgh’s Party Pedaler brings fun along for the ride

John Grupp
| Sunday, August 4, 2013 9:00 p.m
PTRLIVPEDALPUB02080313
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh Party Pedaler, a new special occasion transport that’s an event in itself, takes off from the D.L. Clark Building on the North Side on Thursday evening, August 1, 2013. The pedal-powered party wagon transports up to 16 people on a two-hour tour of Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as the Strip District, the North Shore and Downtown with stops to refuel, shop or sightsee.
PTRLIVPEDALPUB01080313
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh Party Pedaler, a new special occasion transport that’s an event in itself, takes off from the D.L. Clark Building on the North Side on Thursday evening, August 1, 2013. The pedal-powered party wagon transports up to 16 people on a two-hour tour of Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as the Strip District, the North Shore and Downtown with stops to refuel, shop or sightsee.

What has four wheels, 11 pairs of pedals, blue and gold trim, a pirate flag and makes people smile?

The answer is the Pittsburgh Party Pedaler, a fun option for adults who want to turn exercise into a party.

Alternately described as an open-air limousine and a pub crawl on wheels, the Pittsburgh Party Pedaler accommodates up to 16 adults, plus a driver, who provide the pedal power to transport celebrants on a two-hour tour with up to three stops for eating, drinking and shopping.

Shadyside resident Josh Corey, who recently arranged an evening on the Party Pedaler, described it as the best bachelor party ever.

“I was looking for a cool location,” Corey says. “This was like a bar crawl but done as a team effort. … Everybody gave me a standing ovation for putting it together.”

Local licensee Sue Joseph and her husband, Ron, first discovered the Party Pedaler while on a trip to Minnesota.

“We were at a red light when we heard music and saw people pedaling away,” the Jefferson Hills resident recalls. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness. I want to do that.’ ”

Joseph quickly moved from fan to licensee, making Pittsburgh the 22nd city to join municipalities such as San Diego, Kansas City and Chicago where people can rent the party wagon.

The enterprise is a family business.

Sue Joseph enlisted her three 20-something sons — Bryan, Corey and Dan — to assist her as drivers and hosts and husband, Ron, helps out with bike maintenance and piloting weekend trips.

A two-hour rental costs $385, which comes out to just under $25 when split among 16 passengers.

Time and terrain limit the wagon’s range to a four-mile round trip in areas that include the North Shore, the Strip District and Downtown.

There’s a counter in the center of the wagon where riders can consume food and drinks. But so far, local laws prohibit alcohol.

But renters choose their stops according to the interests of the group, and North Shore venues such as the Beer Market and Rivertowne on the North Shore and Perle and the Oyster Bar in Market Square are among the most popular stops.

The group also can provide their own music mixes, as long as they are appropriate for a public airing, or roll with what the company provides.

Everyone onboard has to be 18 or older and 5 feet 3 inches or taller.

While it’s promoted as a way to burn some calories, pedaling is optional.

“You need three to pedal. But it’s more fun with more people pedaling,” Sue Joseph says.

Bryan Joseph knows from experience that one person can make it move if there are no passengers. He has often pumped the pedals by himself to return it to the trailer that transports it.

“It moves when you have eight people (pedaling), because you are not carrying dead weight. You are flying — at a top speed of 5 miles per hour,” Bryan Joseph says.

When her friend Patty Folmer, who lives on the South Side, suggested the Party Pedaler as a site to celebrate Gina Flatman’s 50th birthday, Flatman had difficulty picturing a 16-person bike, but the concept intrigued her.

“Usually, we just go out to dinner. But she knows how much I like biking,” says Flatman, a North Side resident. “She put together the three things that are coolest in my life — biking, barhopping and getting together with my friends from (Carnegie-based community theater group) Stage 62.”

Alice T. Carter is a features writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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