Cocoa Beach puts brakes on bicycling pub crawl
BY R. NORMAN MOODY • FLORIDA TODAY • APRIL 3, 2009
Balancing fun and drinking with city officials' concerns over public safety put the locks on a bicycle bar-hopping event that was planned for Saturday.
Organizers were forced to cancel the annual Cocoa Beach Bikes and Bar-A-Thon after city officials told them the organized event that last year attracted about 300 riders would not be permitted under the city's special events ordinance.
"They were upset that we didn't have a permit," said Keith Coffman, who said he organized the last few rides for fun and to raise money for charity. "We've never had to have a permit."
But city officials said concerns over safety grew as they learned more about this year's event.
Cocoa Beach Assistant City Manager A.J. Hutson said that if the city approved such an event when a large group of people drink and ride bicycles along city streets and someone is injured, the city could face some liability.
"Frankly, we told them they had to come to us with a special events application, which we would have turned down," Hutson said. "It's the impact on public safety."
Coffman said the event, in which participants ride from bar to bar, spending about 45 minutes drinking at each before moving on, started small but by last year had about 300 people. He said that in past years, police have helped block traffic so the group of bicyclists could cross busy State Road A1A. There has not been any serious issues or injuries.