July 9, 2013 Updated: July 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm
A horse-drawn carriage or trolley might be quaint, and a limousine is glitzy.
But a Colorado businesswoman is banking on the idea that visitors to downtown Colorado Springs want a more outdoorsy, interactive experience, and so she's put a new spin on the local bar - and restaurant-hopping scene: a 16-passenger party bike that uses people power to cruise the streets of the city's core.
Theresa Preston, who launched My Handle Bar, says people don't need to be drinkers to enjoy pedaling downtown. The bike draws bar lovers as well as parties that ride around sampling appetizers, and groups of people 18 to 21 years old who go to ice cream and coffee shops.
"It's something new and exciting and different to do," said Preston, who started My Handle Bar in the Springs a few weeks ago. "It is an outdoor activity and it does not have to be centered around alcohol."
This style of multiperson bike was born in the Netherlands, and Preston brought it to Fort Collins and Boulder in 2011 after learning about it in a magazine.
"I saw an article in Entrepreneur Magazine about these two guys who brought it to the U.S.," said Preston, who then brought three of the bikes to Colorado from the Netherlands.
Preston, a Colorado native who lives in Denver, said she added Colorado Springs to her lineup because of the city's outdoor climate and active culture. She owns another business in Colorado Springs - Plato's Closet - and said she knew the city had a supportive community.
"I try to put my bikes and stores in places that I want to support the community in," she said.
The bike has 10 pedaling seats, and needs at least eight people to keep it rolling. A designated driver comes with the rental and helms the bike so partyers don't have to worry about navigating it.
The route includes the most popular areas of downtown Colorado Springs, including parts of Pikes Peak Avenue to Nevada Avenue or Tejon Street. Riders can choose their stops along the way, as long as they stay downtown.
"Our route is completely customizable. We do need to stay in the downtown area because of the hills," Preston said.
My Handle Bar is partnered with two downtown restaurants - Jose Muldoon's and Jack Quinn's -that provide deals for riders. Preston said she is looking for more businesses to offer specials for customers.
The company has had strong support in northern Colorado.
"It is great fun," said Nancy Travis of Boulder, a five-time customer of the My Handle Bar bike tour. "Bystanders on the streets cheer you on, take pictures and seem really intrigued by this huge bike being pedaled by 16 people. It is a great way to bring people downtown and stay downtown for the evening."
Because it's got wheels, the bike is not allowed on sidewalks and navigates through downtown traffic.
"It's going to be interesting to see how it works in the downtown area," said Lt. Brian Ritz of the Colorado Springs Police Department. "Tejon becomes a narrow street. Bikes have the right to use public ways as long as they stay as far right as possible and try to not impede traffic."
Preston assures that will not be a problem.
"We try to ride the right side of the road to allow traffic to pass and work on not impeding more then five cars of traffic, much like any slow-moving vehicle," she said.DETAILSTo book bike time, call 720-431-0119, email ride@MyHandleBar.com or visitMyHandleBar.com. The cost is $160 an hour Sundays-Thursdays, $180 an hour Fridays and Saturdays, and $200 an hour on holidays, with a two-hour minimum.