It’s Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate women on bikes.

There are so many awesome women on bikes and so little space, so here are a few snippets celebrating women on bikes from the early days to more recent times.

 

Lillias Campbell Davidson

Lillias Campbell Davidson started riding in the early 1880s, when she was in her late 20s, and quickly styled herself as an advocate and expert. Women cyclists were viewed as so improper in her neighborhood in the south of England that she rode in the early morning, when the streets were empty; she once turned down a side street to avoid being spied riding by the town vicar. Read more…

Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky

In 1894, Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky was not unlike most 19th century women. A Jewish immigrant, a 23-year-old mother of three, and a dutiful housewife, Kopchovsky was neither a cyclist nor an advocate for women’s rights. But when two men made an alleged bet that no woman could encircle the globe on a bicycle while earning $5,000 along the way, Kopchovksy took up the challenge. Read more…

 

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/the-technology-craze-of-the-1890s-that-forever-changed-womens-rights/373535/

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle,” a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century. The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.” And it gave women a new level of transportation independence that perplexed newspaper columnists across the country. Read more…

 

Kittie Knox

When Katie Knox walked into the annual meeting of the League of American Wheelmen (now the League of American Bicyclists) in 1895 and presented her membership card, she also presented a challenge to American racial segregation.

Knox, a bi-racial seamstress, avid cyclist, and at the time only 21 years old, had been a card-carrying member of the League since 1893. But when the League passed a color bar in 1894 declaring that only white people could be awarded membership, Knox’s status in the organization was called into question. Rather than accept the news sitting down, Knox got on her bike. Read more…

 

Maria Ward

If a bicycle offers a woman independence, then full independence can be achieved only through total responsibility for your bicycle. This was the idea behind Maria Ward’s “Bicycling for Ladies,” a definitive guide to cycling for women published in 1896. Ward aimed to emancipate women from reliance on men by teaching them everything they need to know about buying, riding and maintaining a bicycle. (https://momentummag.com/three-women-changed-course-history-bicycle/)

Women Repairing Bicycle, c. 1895” by Unknown – http://arc.lib.montana.edu/msu-photos/item/135. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Billie Fleming

Despite mocked by opposition for being a woman, Billie Fleming was a cyclist from London who set the record for the distance cycled in 12 months with 29,600 miles in 1938. Her only support was a bike from Rudge Whitworth and some chocolate from Cadbury’s. Read more…

 

Marianne Martin

In 1984, American Marianne Martin won the first women’s Tour de France, perhaps the most famous of all competitive cycling events. She had never set out to cycle, running was her particular sport of choice until a back injury dictated otherwise. French journalists had predicted that no woman would even finish the race but she covered the 616-mile course in 29 hours and 39 minutes. Read more…

Baraah Luhaid

“I’m standing against something bigger than I originally thought,” says Luhaid. “When I advocate for women’s cycling, I’m advocating for women’s independence. Changing core beliefs requires slow, consistent work,” she says. “It’s challenging, but someone has to start.” Read more…

 

Courtney Williams

African-Americans were systematically excluded from cycling for a long time, as with other sports in U.S. history, and ended up doing it less as a result. That seems to be rapidly changing. According to a 2013 report by the League of American Bicyclists and the Sierra Club, from 2001 to 2009 ridership among African-Americans doubled, despite the lack of representation in advocacy groups and the lack of cycling infrastructure in communities known as “transit deserts.” A number of minority cycling groups have sprung up in recent years all over the country, including Red, Bike & Green, a collective founded in 2007 and aimed at creating a black bike culture; and the National Brotherhood of Cyclists, founded the following year by a network of affiliated black cycling clubs. In 2011, a group called Black Women Bike: DC was formed and two years later the national Black Girls Do Bike was born on Facebook. Read more about Courtney’s story.