How Bicycles Boosted the Women’s Rights Movement

 In Commuting, History, Urban, Women

 

Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

 

As Bustle Magazine has recently noted:

Before the bicycle came along, women were expected to progress on foot, in carriages, or on horseback, always while supervised and preferably with the utmost slowness and delicacy. How you traveled denoted your class; to be walking the streets was seen as a highly suspect activity, and was tightly moderated among 19th century women of the upper classes, who were meant to stay largely indoors or to venture outside only with chaperones and in acceptable public spaces.

Various inventions changed that, from the department store to the car — but the bicycle was likely the most crucial of them all. Inexpensive, easy to use and capable of high speeds, the velocipede, as it was then known (the women who rode them were known as “velocipedestriennes” at the time), would remake the world for women in the 19th century, and has done so ever since. Get on your bikes and let’s have some fun.

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