Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

The idea of exploring the origins of biking popped into my head this weekend, and I was reminded that there was a connection to the suffrage/women’s rights movement I’d forgotten about. Grabbed this book from the juvie section of the branch library and suffered through the magazine-style layout for an hour or so. Luckily, I did stumble onto some names I’d like to do further research on.
* Alice Austen, photographer riding to assignments across NYC with 50 lbs of photo equipment on her bike and who had to give up photography after losing her cash in the 1929 stock market crash thus no longer able to afford film.
* Charlotte Smith opposed the bicycle because it put young women in the danger zone of getting knocked up. However she was an outspoken feminist founding the Women’s National Industrial League as an all-female union for federal clerks, and founded/edited Working Woman and Woman Inventor. I especially like that she bashed men over their heads with umbrellas when she saw them annoying young women. Estimated 5,000 umbrellas lost in the process.
* Annie Kopchovsky (Londonderry) cycled around the world to win a wager between two wealthy men.
* Dora Rinehart, “Denver’s petite but Herculean mistress of the road” left her husband in the dust while riding. In 1896 she pedaled 17,196 miles, including stretches of 10 days in July and 20 days between October and November where she road a century a day.
I still feel like there is more to be told of this tale, beyond outfit changing and the slow process of gaining the right to vote.