Did you know that in the 1890’s, the US saw an explosion of popularity in bicycling, especially for women? Millions of bicycles were sold, bicycle infrastructure was developed, bicycle member clubs emerged, and attire and accessories all the rage.
Our last Pedal in the City article focused on statistics on women riding bicycles as compared to men.
This month we wanted to share some history with you, from this article: “Women on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Women’s Movement of the 1890s” – http://www.annielondonderry.com/womenWheels.html
“Cycling in the 1890s was nothing less than “a general intoxication, an eruption of exuberance like a seismic tremor that shook the economic and social foundations of society and rattled the windows of its moral outlook. Nowhere was this more evident than in the role of the bicycle in the changing lives of American women. Indeed, the women’s movement of the 1890s and the cycling craze became so inextricably intertwined that in 1896 Susan B. Anthony told the New York World’s Nellie Bly that bicycling had “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
On the development of “The New Woman”: “As cycling’s popularity exploded, a new breed of woman was making her mark in the 1890s. “The New Woman” was the term used to describe the modern woman who broke with convention by working outside the home, or eschewed the traditional role of wife and mother, or became politically active in the woman’s suffrage movement or other social issues. The New Woman saw herself as the equal of men and the bicycle helped her assert herself as such.”
Read the rest of this interesting history of “Woman on Wheels“.
Today women are bicycling more than ever. There is a plethora of resources for women on bicycling. One such resource is found here: Women Bike (Bike League’s resource page on Women, which also inculdes a link to the Women Bike Facebook page.)
Read the statistics on the gap between men and women who ride bikes, from our December article, “Women and Bicycling: Do Men Ride More Than Women?