When it’s too hot to walk and too boring to ride in a car, take in a new view of downtown Phoenix through Copper Square Adventures’ eBikes. The idea for the electric bikes came when owners Silverio and Susan Ontiveros visited Vancouver, British Columbia, last summer and saw the bike rental shops around the city.
The couple who runs Copper Square Adventures hiking and tour company wanted to bring the idea to the Valley so visitors and residents could get a new perspective on the city. Last fall, they began renting seven eBikes with baskets and helmets in downtown Phoenix, including maps of hotspots to visit, local parks and coffee shops.
This fall, the Ontiveroses will initiate guided city tours on the bikes, which can go as fast as 20 mph and travel 60 miles when fully charged. The hybrid between a bike and a scooter has pedals in case it runs out of juice, a hand accelerator and hand brakes.
“We are hoping to make Phoenix more approachable and more exciting with these bicycles so people get to see parts of Phoenix you don’t normally see, the unique neighborhoods and businesses and shops in the arts district,” Silverio Ontiveros said.
The bikes can be brought aboard Metro Light Rail to ride around Tempe and other areas near the rail line.
But don’t expect to drop by the rental and touring agency for a peek. The Ontiveroses rent the bikes from the building where they live on Lincoln and Second streets in Phoenix. They will deliver the bikes to customers and to hotels.
Silverio, who was a Phoenix police officer for 33 years, says as long as riders are familiar with bike lanes and traffic laws, they will be OK riding in downtown traffic. However, there are steps the city could take following other large cities’ examples to promote safe bicycling, he said.
“In Mexico City, the municipal government is encouraging people to ride bikes,” he said.
Several European cities have bike-rental programs with stations outside of tourist areas and subway stops.
“I still have a positive feeling that this will take off (in the U.S.),” Silverio said. “In China, there are over 100 million of these electric bikes. I think in the U.S. there are 100,000.”
So far, about half of the customers who’ve rented the bikes have been Valley residents. The couple ride the bikes to church and on errands about town.
“People see it, write down (our) number and ride with their friends,” Silverio said.
Details: EBIKE RENTAL
Cost: 2-hour ride, $29; 2-4 hours, $39; all day until 6 p.m., $49; each additional hour, $15. Discounts available on rental of three bikes or more.
Reservations: coppersquareadventures.com, 602-330-3620.