Women on the Move: Cycling and the Rational Dress Movement


Many of my readers will know about my interest in cycling and professional racing. I recently wrote an article on Australian legend Ernie Old for Cycling History. There are so many great article on this blog that it’s a wonder that this article escaped my attention. I wanted to share Aaron Crisp’s well researched article about the biased attitudes that prevailed against women cycling. In time, as Aaron explains, women would come to enjoy the freedom of cycling unmolested. Sensibly women’s fashion also changed to suit riding a bicycle without being hindered. There is much more to this article, nonetheless I will leave it to my friend Aaron to explain. Enjoy.

Cycling History

On the evening of October 9, 1893, at a prayer-meeting of the High Street Methodist Church in Binghamton, New York, Samuel Stanley rose to address the congregation. The reason? The purchase of a bicycle by Mrs Burrows, a widow and active worker in the church. Stanley, warming to his subject, denounced cycling as unladylike, unchristian, and a disgrace to the church, and the pastor, Reverend John Bradshaw, sided with him on the issue.[1]

Three years later in 1896, Charlotte Smith and Virginia N. Lount of the Women’s Rescue League issued a resolution in which they bewailed the “great curse … inflicted on the people of this country because of the present bicycle craze.” Not only did they view imprudent use of the bicycle as a cause of “the diseases peculiar to women,” but “immoderate bicycling” was “to be deplored because of the evil associations and opportunities offered by cycling sports.”

“The bicycle,” opined…

View original post 4,290 more words