Way cleared for party bikes on city streets

Is it bike or metal octopus? A road hazard, must-try tourist attraction or a moving party? Looks like the Conference Bike is on its way back to Philadelphia.

City Council just after 12:30 p.m. unanimoulsy passed legislation today authorizing the bikes, also called Party Bikes in some circles.


The wacky seven-seater pedal cycles never really left. Wheeler-dealer businessman Samuel Kuttab first brought the seven-seated cycles to Center City in 2006, and the city quickly banned them out of traffic and safety concerns.

But Kuttab has eight of the bikes, and they need using. A rushed attempt to legalize them fizzled last June, now Council's bill will allow him and his daughter to move forward in seeking approval for routes and regulations from the Streets Department, though that approval is not guaranteed.

Last year Kuttab wanted to establish a mile-long route for the bike in West Philadelphia between the zoo and the Centennial area of Fairmount Park, including the Please Touch Museum, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and the Negro Leagues monument.

The Conference Bike is a fairly amazing piece of machinery invented in 1991 by American artist Eric Staller. It has six seats arranged in a circle, with riders facing the center and pedaling toward a common axle. A seventh rider, the "captain," steers and brakes.

The bikes have been used for tours in Berlin, Baltimore, and Budapest; as a tool for corporate team-building in Amsterdam; and as a way for blind people to bike in Dublin. Staller said last year that the bike was misused in Times Square in New York City, where it only contributed to congestion.

Council has not yet voted this morning, but the bill is included on a slate with about 20 other bills that are certain to pass this morning.



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