G-W Portraits: Andrea Smith

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Vancouver has a reputation as a bike-friendly city, but cycling culture itself has a long way to go before it becomes equally accessible to everyone.

That’s why Andrea Smith and Lucas Gallagher’s shop, Sidesaddle, is such a promising addition to the city. A “women-focused, everyone welcome” bike shop, Sidesaddle caters to one of the fastest growing sectors of the bike-riding market, while striving to make cycling more approachable for everyone. Spaces like these are the next step in expanding cycling culture.

Yesterday, I spoke to Andrea about the shop, its mission, what she loves about Grandview-Woodland, and Bike to Work week.

You can hear more from Andrea in her PechaKucha Vancouver presentation.

Or, stop in at the shop. Andrea’s pal Rudy might just be the city’s cutest greeter.
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Bike to Work Week’s fall edition takes place from October 26th through November 1st this year. Sign up, log your kilometers, and visit celebration stations around the city. There are mounds of prizes and a number of intangible rewards, too.

Register here: Bike to Work Week

You can find the rest of the interviews in this series here: G-W Portraits

Bike City

Bikes

Though the addition of separated bike lanes to the downtown has brought cycling to the fore in civic conversation, the truth is that Vancouver has been a bike city for decades now. It’s been a slow evolution, from inconvenient bike paths set on out-of-the-way streets to today’s emphasis on a safe, connected network.

Until recently, cycling businesses were mostly limited to bike shops, courier companies, and rentals, with a few pioneers like SPUD taking the lead on eco-friendly bike deliveries. Now, there’s a widening array of bike-powered businesses, encouraged by the growing infrastructure, the mainstreaming of cycling culture, and the shrinking demand for bike couriers. The smaller start up costs of bike-based business makes it a creative space, allowing entry to small-scale ideas that might not make a profit if auto transport had to be factored in.

There’s also been an evolution of support services for cyclists as cycle culture has grown. Amenities like bike corrals and air pumps are being installed across the city. Many events and festivals provide bike valet services. The Farmers’ Market also sets up bike valets at some of its markets, along with free bike delivery of groceries at two of their locations. As more Vancouverites give up their cars and focus on cycling, walking, and public transit to get around, this support will continue to grow. It’s not just singles and childless folks getting into the act, either – Velo Family Diaries is a great account of how pedal-powered living can work for the kind of families typically seen in mini vans or SUVs.

Breakfast

Whether it’s brunch from the Breakfast Courier or secure bike parking at the Folk Festival, I’m happy to take advantage of what this bike city has to offer.

Here’s a sampling:

Groceries, Greens, and Grub

Food Pedalers
Nut butters at your door
Eastside dinner service
Lunch at your desk

Forget Food Trucks

Coffee
Ice cream
Popsicles

Heavy Lifting

Shift Urban Cargo
Long Bikes

DIY

Our Community Bikes
Kickstand

Advocacy

HUB
BEST
Momentum
Critical Mass