After just starting his Smile Cycle tour company last year in Kelowna, Stuart Lang is already looking to expand his operation to Penticton.
Smile Cycle offers a different way to tour Kelowna via a 15-seater bicycle. Lang said it’s often compared to the MS Society’s fundraising Big Bike, but unlike that 25-seater, riders on the Smile Cycle face inwards rather than forward.
“Ours comes from Amsterdam. It’s a Dutch-made quadracycle,” said Lang, explaining that the company name comes from the smiles of people as they see the cycle passing by with parties on board.
Even if a driver is inconvenienced by needing to pull around the cycle, he said, they often see those people smiling and giving a wave.
In Kelowna, Smile Cycle has four tour offerings, including a historical tour, a craft beer crawl, grapes and grains, which mixes a wine and a distilled spirits tour, along with private excursions. Unlike their European peers, no alcohol is allowed aboard the cycle.
“In just a matter of a year, out of the 84 outdoor activities in Kelowna, we were able to rise to number two,” said Lang, who was presenting to Penticton city council to introduce them to the concept in advance of beginning work to bring his company to the South Okanagan.
“Penticton has always been a place I wanted to take the business,” said Lang.
Responding to council questions, Lang talked about the operation of the cycle, which he said had a good record in Kelowna through last year’s tourist season.
Under provincial law, the Smile Cycle qualifies as a bicycle. Lang said it usually moves slower than cyclists, with the tours traveling at about five to seven kilometers an hour, with tours running about two hours in length.
Lang said they want to ensure their guests have a good time, so they are careful in planning the routes to ensure the cycle can travel safely with traffic, but also to ensure the routes are not too strenuous.
No one, he said, wants to be sweating as they ride up the hill to Naramata on the Smile Cycle.