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Amsterdam bans controversial ‘beer-bikes’

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(AFP) – Amsterdam will enforce a new ban on ‘beer-bikes’ this week after years of complaints by locals about rowdy tourists getting drunk and disorderly while pedalling along its famous canals.

As from Wednesday “the beer bicycle may be banned from the city centre to stop it from being a nuisance,” the Amsterdam District Court said in a statement.

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

Beer bicycles have become a popular way — especially for tourists celebrating group events, such as stag parties — to travel around Amsterdam.

The contraption is actually a small cart fitted out with a number of bicycle seats arranged around a bar table and which is then powered by patrons, as they pedal along the inner city’s historic canals.

But beer bicycles have become a huge headache, even for Amsterdammers who are known for their tolerance.

Last year some 6,000 residents, many of them living in the inner city handed the council a petition to have it banned, calling it a “terrible phenomenon.”

“Our city’s become a giant attraction park,” one resident told the NOS newscaster at the time.

Amsterdam’s late mayor, Eberhard van der Laan agreed and instituted a ban the bikes, but was taken to court last year by four beer bicycle operators, who accused the city of “imposing on people’s freedom”.

At the time, judges struck down the mayor’s request, saying it was not properly motivated.

In Tuesday’s ruling, however, the judges agreed that problems caused by the beer bike including shouting, public drunkenness and lewd behaviour such as urinating in public were causes for the beer bike to be no more.

Amsterdam in recent years have been looking at ways to tame the yearly deluge of some 17 million tourists, which is threatening to swamp the city.

Once a small fishing village, Amsterdam in the 16th and 17th centuries grew into a major trading hub, but now has become a victim of its own success.

Every year the flow of sightseers flocking to the city’s 165 canals grows by some five percent as the result of an impressive marketing campaign.

But for the city’s 830,000 residents, tourist numbers threaten to become a major annoyance.

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