“I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel!”

Hmmmm, I wonder how much I love this angle: bikes free chicks! My favourite (dead-set) tweeter Maria Popova alerted me to National Geographic‘s new book Wheels of Change: How The Bicycle Empowered Women.


The advent of the bike “radically redefined the normative conventions of femininity”. For a start it got women straddling something, and not side-saddle. Then it got them moving. And active.

“From allowing young people to socialize without the chaperoning of clergymen and other merchants of morality to finally liberating women from the constraints of corsets and giant skirts (the “rational dress” pioneered by bike-riding women cut the weight of their undergarments to a “mere” 7 pounds), the velocipede made possible previously unthinkable actions and interactions that we now for granted to the point of forgetting the turbulence they once incited.”


Some great quotes from the book:

“To men, the bicycle in the beginning was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was a steed upon which they rode into a new world.” ~ Munsey’s Magazine, 1896

“The bicycle is the devil’s advance agent morally and physically in thousands of instances.”)

“Success in life depends as much upon a vigorous and healthy body as upon a clear and active mind.” ~ Elsa von Blumen, American racer, 1881

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Me too.

I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.

Chicks on bikes. Always cool. No?

Scans and quotes via Sarah Goodyear / Grist

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