The Bicycle and Women’s Lib
We urbanists know and have heard much laud for the humble bicycle as a key piece of the multimodal transportation puzzle. But who knew the bicycle was such a feminist?! In this episode, we explore the modern bicycle’s role in enabling the increase of women’s participation in democracy and local advocacy.
Note: I originally researched, wrote, and recorded this as episode 1 for release on November 9, 2016. And then…. Something unexpected happened and I scrapped the whole thing.
But hey, building off the momentum of the Women’s March this last weekend, this topic is still as relevant as ever and perhaps even more so than… back then.
So, I’ve re-recorded this episode – this time with a little less innocence and I think a bit more, mmm, presence.
Another Note!: This episode frequently references Susan B. Anthony, the well-known women’s suffragist, who also happened to be on the record lauding the bicycle during the period of time I discuss in this episode. Let’s keep in mind here that she certainly wasn’t the only major actor in the women’s suffrage movement and Ms. Anthony must also bear some controversy with her name. I just wanted to make that clear. Onward!
Show Notes + Sources:
How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle by Frances E. Willard
Objections to Women on Wheels:
“The Bicycle Indicted” – This bulletin from 1896 begins, “The Women’s Rescue League intends to begin a national crusade against the use of the bicycle by women.” Cool.
Maysville, KY evening bulletin, 1896 – “Just what relation exists between the bicycle and eternal salvation or destruction of the soul is a question of importance…”
Calling for a “rational dress” while cycling
The Rational Dress, explored by the St. Paul Globe (1897)
THEY RIDE BIKES (The Wichita Daily Eagle, 1894)
More on the rational dress phenomenon
Check out these fun ladies and their work supporting the community of women of color who bike (or would like to)
“Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” by Harry Dacre – This song was considered rather progressive at the time as it helped to normalize the image of a woman on a bicycle (with a male counterpart, of course).