Sidesaddle – Canada’s First Women-focused Bike Shop

Sidesaddle will offer a range of women’s bike products and a relaxed, respectful vibe.

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Andrea and Lucas. Photo courtesy of Andrea Smith.

Andrea and Lucas. Photo courtesy of Andrea Smith.

Between 2008 and 2011, the number of women cycling in Vancouver, BC, nearly doubled with women now accounting for 41 percent of those who made trips by bicycle.

Yet amidst this substantial growth, bike mechanic Andrea Smith noticed that many women still weren’t having their needs met in terms of the bike products, services, and information necessary to support their lifestyles.

“There are some commonalities to women’s experiences, and I think the industry could do a much better job of meeting the needs that women do have,” Smith explained. “Women tend to combine multiple trips into one, you’re picking your kid up at daycare and you’re carrying a purse and briefcase but it’s raining on you and you need gear that can help you do all of that.”

Despite a recent proliferation of women-specific cycling products on the manufacturing end, many retail shops are still decidedly male-focused, with maybe a small section in the corner dedicated to women’s products.  After discussing this issue with a friend one day, Smith decided to open her own store. When it opens on June 18, Sidesaddle will be the first explicitly women-focused bike shop in Canada.

While Sidesaddle will carry a wide range of women’s and unisex gear and clothing, it is by no means an exclusionary affair. She is running the retail space/ repair shop with her business partner Lucas Gallagher – a bike mechanic, racer and cycling advocate – and explained that the shop is about much more than just the products. “It’s really more about the vibe, people can just expect respectful service and that we’ll meet people wherever they’re at.” Like many of the women-focused bike shops in the US, Smith and Gallagher expect to have a number of male customers as well.

Sidesaddle is set to open in East Van, and Smith and Gallagher hope to create a community-minded space where new riders and long-term cyclists alike can feel comfortable and have their needs met in a casual, respectful environment.

“Lucas and I both just want to make cycling more appealing and accessible to as many people as possible, especially women,” Smith said. “So if we can win people over to cycling as a mode of transportation or a competitive sport or just as a way of enjoying your life more, that’s what motivates us.”

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