A new touring company is in town and it’s good for the environment.
The Smile Cycle – Pedal Tour Company opened in January, and owner Stuart Lang took a big leap when he heard a calling to come back to the Okanagan.
The company features a 15-passenger bike, where patrons face each other across a table as they pedal around Kelowna. It was originally designed in the Netherlands, and carries an eco-friendly solar panel that charges the battery.
“When you see it and engineering behind it, it’s quite impressive,” said Lang, adding he saw the first bicycle operating in Germany.
“The idea came from back when I was a lot younger, I was an exchange student and I went to Germany, and in Berlin there were folks peddling down the main street and I thought ‘wow, these folks are having a blast, they’re all facing each other, it’s not like anything I had seen before.’”
After seeing Germany’s successful bike adventures and his friend in Portland ride a similar bike, he decided to take his idea to the Okanagan.
“We have a great history to this city with Canada’s 150 happening here and for someone who’s been proud to come from and live in Kelowna I didn’t want it to just be about beer,” said Lang, as the original bikes he saw in Germany featured beer drinking as part of the experience.
In October, the 28-year-old attended a Rock My Business Plan workshop for people ages 18 to 39 which was created from funding from the province and it jumpstarted his idea.
“It provided me with that framework and organization to take this dream and take all the quantitative and qualitative measures and put it into reality. It demystified the whole process,” he said.
The 28-year-old moved away from Kelowna for nine years, completing a master’s degree at Dalhousie University.
But his interest lies with the tourism industry. Lang moved back to Kelowna last June from Halifax. His fiancé is still currently living there, finishing her schooling.
“It’s really been a gut check to put yourself out there,” he said. “It’s about showing this place that we love.”
For more information or to book a tour visit www.smilecycletours.ca.