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February 5, 2022

Learning to Ride a Bicycle, circa 1895

English photographer William Gordon Davis titled this composition “Maidens with a Disregard for Convention.”


And yes, in the 1890s, a female on a bicycle was disregarding convention. Many men (and some women) considered bicycle riding unladylike, unhealthy, and even shocking. But to the women “wheelers” taking life by the handlebars meant freedom.

An editorial published in the May 1896 edition of Munsey’s Magazine stated, “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 on which they rode into a new world.”

And once they rode forth, there was no going back.




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