Cycle Chic: Female Cyclists Through the Ages

A century of women’s cycling in photos. 

Cycling isn’t just a sport, a passion or a hobby. It’s a lifestyle. There is lots of talk of the rise of the bike movement, that it’s becoming more and more a part of the cultural consciousness. But cycling isn’t a trend; pedaling to get from point A to point B goes back many decades.

In many places, cycling isn’t a choice, it simply is. Bike capitals Copenhagen and Amdsterdam come to mind, cities where cycling is the norm, cyclists reap an array of infrastructural benefits and the cities themselves can devote to continuing to curb carbon emissions. In other places, bicycles are simply the most efficient way to get things done. Take the bikes on the streets of a country like Vietnam, where people push bikes overloaded with bamboo, chickens, vegetables or whatever else the owner is carting that day.

And yet in our industrialized country, a two wheeled lifestyle has yet to be the norm. We ride for fun, or to train, and maybe a few times a week we hop on the bike to bust out a commute, but the bicycle has yet to be an assumed part of everyday life.

So why aren’t more of us riding? In many places, cycling for women is affected by a serious gender gap. But women have been riding through the ages, changing gender stereotypes along the way.

As Susan B. Anthony once said, “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.”

From the first woman to bicycle around the world, to using the bicycle to promote cultural change, biking has been an empowering tool for women throughout the ages. In honor of female cyclists, here’s a visual look at women on two wheels from the last century.













Slideshow: Cycle Chic in Berlin

8 Bike Share Capitals of the World

6 Places to Get Your Coffee By Bike

Images: University of Illinois, radlmax, Toronto History, Toronto History, Stylesight, Amsterdamize, UC DavisStylesight, Prolly is Not Probably, The Independent, Mikael Colville-AndersenCopenhagen Cycle Chic, comrade foot

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.