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41 Things That Women Riders Were Forbidden to Do in 1895

By Monica Buck

Bicycle might have done a lot for the emancipation of women, but it sure wasn‘t a smooth ride all along. On June 21st, 1895, a newspaper called “Newark Sunday Advocate” ran a story which would be absolutely unacceptable today. The Unique Cycling Club of Chicago publicly stripped and shamed two women for absolutely ridiculous reasons, which you can read in the transcript of the article below.

“The Unique Cycling club of Chicago is all that its name implies. One of its laws is that on all runs bloomers and knickerbockers shall be worn, and two members who disobeyed this rule recently met with a punishment that they will not forget soon. Union park was the rendezvous for the last run, and 50 members turned out. The president, Miss Bunker, observed two women wearing short skirts over their bloomers.

“Take the skirts off,” ordered Captain Bunker.

“Indeed we won’t,” was the reply.

Stunt Bikers from 100 Years Ago (3)
Stunt rider approximately 1900

A crowd of 200 had collected to see the start. The president and the captain held a consultation, and then, taking several strong armed members with them, fell on the skirt wearers and stripped them down to their bloomers.

“It was done in all seriousness,” said Mrs. Langdon. “The club’s rules are made to be kept and not to be broken. Why did we take off the skirts in public? For no other reason but to make examples of the offenders. They publicly defied our rules and were punished accordingly.”

This really could not happen in this day and age, and I‘m glad for that, but the Unique Cycling Club of Chicago went even further. They attached a list of 41 don’ts for women riders to the article! You can read the “not very bright” rules below.

1. Don’t be a fright.
2. Don’t faint on the road.
3. Don’t wear a man’s cap.
4. Don’t wear tight garters.
5. Don’t forget your toolbag.
6. Don’t attempt a “century.”
7. Don’t coast. It is dangerous.
8. Don’t boast of your long rides.
9. Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”
10. Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
11. Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”
12. Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.
13. Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.
14. Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.
15. Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.
16. Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.
17. Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.
18. Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.
19. Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.
20. Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.
21. Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.
22. Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
23. Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.
24. Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”
25. Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.
26. Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.
27. Don’t ride without a needle, thread and thimble.
28. Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”
29. Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.
30. Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.
31. Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.
32. Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.
33. Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.
34. Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.
35. Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
36. Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”
37. Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.
38. Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel.
39. Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.
40. Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.
41. Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.