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Germany's 'beer bikes' could be taken off the roads

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(Read caption) A ‘beer bike’ on the streets of Mannheim, Germany.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

They are a mainstay of German street life, a quintessential German way for people to hold anything from a bachelor party to a Christmas work party.

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Classified as bicycles, they can ride on the streets and park wherever, and they don’t pollute. But on the street, they look like a restaurant on wheels: wide, pedal-powered, multiseat conference bikes taking between 10 and 20 party-goers zigzagging through the most crowded shopping or tourist areas. Many do not serve alcoholic drinks, but their noise and bulk often anger residents and passersby. Now the “beer bikes,” born in neighboring Holland, are under scrutiny.

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Last month, a court in the western city of Düsseldorf formally banned them, saying that the beer bikes are a traffic nuisance. The court case could bolster efforts under way in German cities from Berlin to Münster to ban the contraptions.