Easthampton City Council approves new rail trail measure that bars pedaling tour service 

  • Pedal N' Party, an Easthampton-based business, provides a tour in the city in June 2019.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/4/2019 2:18:56 PM
Modified: 10/4/2019 2:18:44 PM

EASTHAMPTON – Pedal N’ Party will continue to operate as a business, just not in Easthampton.

On Wednesday, the Easthampton City Council passed an ordinance amendment that, among other things, bars vehicles wider than 4½ feet and longer than 15 feet from the Manhan Rail Trail. These dimensions mean that the Pedal N’ Party vehicle, which has room for 14 passengers plus a driver and which has been described by Pedal N’ Party owner Nick Vautrin as a “big pedal bike with an electric motor used only when the driver needs to get safely to and from locations,” will not be making a return to the trail.

“There’s really nothing I could do about it,” said Vautrin, who didn’t attend the council meeting.

The original business plan for Pedal N’ Party was to use the rail trail to provide tours to Easthampton destinations with the vehicle. However, this was halted in June when, after its inaugural tour, Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti issued a cease-and-desist order asserting that the vehicle did not meet the definition of a bicycle.

The ordinance amendment was introduced by City Councilor Owen Zaret, and City Councilor Salem Derby said at the meeting that Pedal N’ Party was the catalyst for it. 

“We looked at trying to shore up some of the areas that weren’t quite clear (in the law),” he said.

The ordinance amendment was unanimously approved.

Speaking Thursday, Zaret told the Gazette that the city had had “loopholes and some gaps” in the law that needed to be addressed.

He also said that the "legislation wasn’t aimed specifically at Pedal N’ Party.”

That’s not how the company’s owner see it, however. “Yes it was,” said Vautrin.

Pedal N’ Party is now operating out of Springfield, where it is set to have its first tour on Oct. 10. Vautrin said that the company has five tours, which will take place in downtown Springfield, fully booked.

Vautrin said he was “extremely disappointed” by the council's vote, and that being excluded from the rail trail earlier had ruined the company’s season and forced it to provide refunds to more than 400 people.

He said he’s pleased Springfield has welcomed his business. 

“We’ve moved to a city that encouragers young entrepreneurs and dreamers,” Vautrin said. “They’ve worked with us tremendously.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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