Amsterdam bans nuisance ‘beer bikes’

Amsterdam has banned so-called ‘beer-bikes’ after locals complained about drunk tourists urinating and exposing themselves in public while riding through the city streets.

From today (1 November) “the beer bicycle may be banned from the city centre to stop it from being a nuisance,” said the Amsterdam district court in a statement.

It continued: “The court agrees with the city council that the combination of traffic disruptions, anti-social behaviour and the busy city centre justifies a ban”.

Beer bikes are popular with tourists, especially those visiting for hen or stag parties to which special packages are often promoted by tour operators.

Bike seats are fitted on a cart and arranged around a table where the beer is served. The carts, which are often covered, are usually driven by a tour operator who pedals guests through the city.

The debate surrounding the beer bikes has been a sore subject for inner city dwellers, who last year handed a petition, with some 6,000 signatures, to the council calling for a ban on the “terrible phenomenon”.

One concerned resident told NOS news at the time that “our city’s become a giant attraction park”.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam’s mayor until his death earlier this month, agreed with locals and asked for a ban.

Following his decision, however, four beer bike operators appealed the ban in court last year, accusing the city of “imposing on people’s freedom”.

Initially the judges rejected the mayor’s request on the basis that it was not “properly motivated”.

Yesterday’s ruling saw the beer bike operators’ appeal quashed, with judges agreeing that the anti-social and public order problems caused by the bikes, including shouting, public drunkenness, public urination and public indecency, warranted a ban.

The court also cited the beer bikes’ slow speed which leads to traffic congestion in the city’s busy and narrow streets.

It acknowledged that beer bike operators had, since 2014, tried to reduce the problems caused by the bikes. However, according to the court ruling, from the eight months to August 2016, 63 reports were received about nuisance behaviour caused by the beer bikes. This was an increase of 27 reports compared to the same period in 2015.

On average, Amsterdam welcomes around 17 million tourists per year and is home to approximately 850,000 permanent residents.

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