The importance of women-focused bike rides and shops
Written by Melissa Bruntlett, the co-founder of Modacity.
It was another beautifully sunny weekend in Vancouver, and I couldn’t have spent it a better way. As with most summer weekends, our family can be found out pedalling our bicycles, and it’s always a treat when we get to ride along with others.
Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of helping organize the Pretty in Pink Ride with the Vancouver Velo Vixens, a local group of women who love nothing more than getting out on two wheels and having fun with fellow ladies.
Here in Metro Vancouver, there are a number of groups that regularly gather to celebrate the joy of riding a bicycle. From the Vancruisers, to the Wheelmen, and the annual Velopalooza celebrations, each offers an opportunity to cruise with like-minded people. So why is it important to have a female-focused group?
While it is never the intention, quite often men outnumber women in attendance at organized rides. This is likely due to the fact that men also make the majority of all people on bikes in the city. And while the atmosphere is very welcoming at any rides I’ve attended, it can sometime be intimidating when you feel like you are just one of a handful of women at a given event.
Having women-focused rides provides ladies the chance to get together in relaxed environment and support each other. For me, this ride offered me an opportunity to connect with some of the ladies I’ve been riding with regularly for over a year, but have never had the chance to get to know. For others in attendance, it was an opportunity to expand their social circle, especially for a couple of women new to the city, who were looking to meet like-minded ladies in an unassuming environment.
Most importantly for me, I was able to bring my daughter along and show her that regardless of age, women not only love to ride, but they can create a very open space where even an eight-year-old girl can hang out comfortably with women of ages spanning the 20s and into the 50s.
With that shared love of bikes and welcoming attitudes, it seemed fitting that after pedalling the streets of East Vancouver, we ended our journey at the newly opened Sidesaddle as they began their official launch party. The women-focused bike shop has had a lot of coverage in the local media over the past few weeks, and deservedly so. They have taken that notion of women wanting and deserving a supportive and welcoming community, and created a retail environment free of pretence and with a little something for everyone – including some very lovely upright bicycles.
Co-ed rides are truly wonderful, and provide an excellent example of how large and varied the bicycle community in Vancouver has become. But what women-focused rides and shops help to do is not only strengthen that community, but serve as a reminder that there are many strong, empowered women within it that want nothing more than to support each other. And if we get to have some fun while we do that, then I can’t think of a better way than on a bicycle!
To view the full collection of photographs from the Pretty in Pink Ride click here, and for the Sidesaddle Launch Party click here.