Annie Londonderry and the bicycle as a vehicle of social liberation

Over the past couple years, we have witnessed the rise of an eco-friendly, politically progressive bike culture in the US. In March, 2011, Maria Popova wrote for the Atlantic: “As much as we love bike culture and everything bikes stand for, we may have underestimated the profound significance of the bicycle as a cultural agent of change.”

Earlier this year, Sue Macy’s Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) told the story of the bicycle’s role in women’s emancipation in late-19th-century America. Not only did bicycles give women freedom of transportation and mobility without chaperones, it liberated women from corsets and big skirts. In order to ride more comfortably, women designed new fashions that reduced the weight of their undergarments to a “mere” seven pounds.


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