Ladies: “Don’t” scandalize yourselves on bikes!

Reader David Pertuz thought LGRAB readers would be particularly interested in a post on the Detroit blog written by Todd Scott, called 1895: Don’ts for women riders.  (Thanks, David!) That’s right – 41 “don’ts” to be exact, from an 1895 article in New York World.  The list is both hilarious and horrifying.  We are lucky to be looking at this from 115 years in the future.

A few of my favorites:

  • Don’t be a fright.
  • Don’t faint on the road.
  • Don’t boast of your long rides.
  • Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.
  • Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.
  • Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?
  • Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.
  • Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.
  • Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
  • Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.

In his post, Todd makes a good point:

For those who get nostalgic for that 1890s golden era of cycling, it’s important to realize it wasn’t golden for everyone.  Major Taylor can vouch for that.

Yeah, really. I enjoy Tweed Rides, but there’s no way men would have “let” me join them back in the day for a drinking ride from pub to pub, especially with all my fainting, screaming, and bloomer talk.

Full list of “don’ts” at the original m-bike post.

What’s your favorite “don’t”?

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32 thoughts on “Ladies: “Don’t” scandalize yourselves on bikes!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually, in my experience, cows are curious about cyclists rather than scared of us. Particularly so if you blow kisses towards them as you ride by their pasture. If cows are running away, perhaps a few blown kisses are needed!

  2. E A says:

    I guess I fail especially on the “Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.” How would I commute home???? And … I prefer to “be a fright” with all my hi-vis and lighting – keeps me noticed. I want everyone to look at me … or at least see me. :-)
    Can we apply some of those rules to the male riders now? ;-)
    (as for cows — I guess today’s cows are too domesticated cuz I’ve never seen one run from me… and I’ve passed plenty of cows during rides up in WI or out in NW IL)

    • See, I’m translating “cows” as “deer” for my commute. And they definitely don’t run when they see me. I do a lot of bell-ringing and hollering in those instances.

    • April says:

      Riding through rural Alberta, cows ran from my boyfriend and I all the time. It’s actually kinda creepy to have sixty cows stare at you, and it’s mildly amusing to see them totally ignore 18-wheeler trucks, but startle and run at the sight of a couple of bicycles.

      • Anonymous says:

        You obviously weren’t blowing kisses in their direction. Either that or rural Alberta cows are less accustomed to strange machines such as bikes compared to their Fort Worth cousins. Round these parts, bikes are common enough the cows aren’t scared but uncommon enough that the cows are VERY interested. Buffalo, on the other hand, nonchalantly walk in the opposite direction when bikes come near their pasture fence.

        • April says:

          Well, I tried telling them that I’m vegan and therefore not a threat, but they weren’t listening…. ;^)

          We did bike by/near some bison though in a park where they were protected. They weren’t curious about us at all, nor scared. Just totally not interested. They’re terrifyingly huge close-up though.

        • April says:

          Well, I tried telling them that I’m vegan and therefore not a threat, but they weren’t listening…. ;^)

          We did bike by/near some bison though in a park where they were protected. They weren’t curious about us at all, nor scared. Just totally not interested. They’re terrifyingly huge close-up though.

  3. Cecily Walker says:

    I am so glad someone else mentioned their ambivalence for tweed rides. There’s no way during that time period that I would’ve ever been encouraged to participate, and while times have changed, I’m not especially nostalgic for that era.

    • April says:

      I guess that since I’ve dabbled in other historical re-enactment (I’ve participated in the SCA, a group that does medieval re-enactment), I have a different perspective on these things.

      Nobody’s saying we actually want to go back in time and live like people did then. I don’t see it as nostalgia, either. The benefit of living when we do, is that we can pick and choose the things we like from a specific era and have fun with them, while acknowledging that things weren’t always great back then. For instance: I think it’s fun to ride old bicycles in old-fashioned clothes and maybe make food popular then and be a bit silly about it…but you’re right that as a woman, I wouldn’t have been allowed to participate in bar crawls of that era.

      I guess I just think it’s possible to play-act and enjoy the fun parts of a given historical time while acknowledging that things actually kinda sucked for most people back then.

      • Cecily Walker says:

        And I’m not saying you shouldn’t participate in tweed rides, April. I mentioned the reasons why *I* don’t.

  4. Stephen Hodges says:

    It’s a real tossup for me between “Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back,” and “Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you,” although I can only imagine what a “bicycle face” might be. What’s fascinating to me about this list (and I think a woman wrote it) is the attitudes underlying it. It’s clearly patronizing, but there was much, much more going on. Nevertheless, it’s amusing.

    And yes, too many men like like a “fright” when they ride. The day I saw a middle-aged man with grey hair wearing all-pink Lycra was the day that I swore I’d never wear Lycra again. And I haven’t.

  5. Sarah W. says:

    I’d summarize these rules as: don’t wear funny clothes, don’t talk about your clothes, don’t be an inexperienced rider, don’t ever think you’re an expert. Just what are the “do”s?

  6. Oh, wow, that’s hilarious. I’m having trouble picking a favorite…they seem a bit obsessed with bloomers, no?

  7. Bicyclekitty says:

    Some of these still apply – like “don’t boast of your long rides” – I need to work on that one. My favorite one is Don’t coast. It is dangerous.

  8. lem says:

    Don’t spit while riding a bicycle. (If the cyclist behind you wishes to be baptized he(/she) would have it done with water and in a church.) Besides, spitting openly in public is an offence and an obnoxious habit.

    Ring your bicycle bell ‘sweetly and gently’ ( not imperiously) early – not when you’re just about to ram into another bicyclist or pedestrian.

  9. anniebikes says:

    Can you imagine if we didn’t go out in public today until we mastered our riding technique? Hoo boy…and who’s the judge? I admit, I’m a bit wobbly on my bike, but I like to think that it’s an advantage rather than a failing – automobiles will give me a wide birth!

  10. RobW says:

    “Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.” I’m not sure, but believe the inverse would be more upsetting to some.

  11. Illiniwu says:

    my favorites are: “Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.” and “Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.” (it’s clearly an either or situation). i often wonder if i am making a “bicycle face” or if i look the same as if i was walking.

  12. Courtnee Felton says:

    Here’s a cute of illustration of the “Don’t ask, ‘What do you think of my bloomers?’”

    Cecily: I like Tweed Rides in part because I like how contrary my brown female self donning tweed finery is to the widely held image of Victorian folks. I looovee the way the Dandies and Quaintrelles do the do in DC. I also think the event is more like Japanese cosplay than nostalgia. Except bikes are involved–and hopefully tea.

    • Cecily Walker says:

      I’ve seen the Dandies and Quaintrelles in photos here and there. I’m glad they’ve found a way to make the event their own. It still doesn’t make me want to don Victorian garb and go for a spin, though. :)

    • kfg says:

      Except tweed rides are generally Georgian; and even early Elizibethan. Certainly the photos of the Dandies and Quaintrelles are.

  13. Cycler says:

    Realized that I was breaking at least one of the rules when speaking with a construction worker (to whom I had not been formally introduced) today about how great old bikes are.
    I said, that my DL-1 is like a Cadillac, it takes a V-8 (slapping my thigh in reference) to get it moving, but once it’s going, there’s no stopping it.

  14. aem2 says:

    Laced boots can indeed be tiresome.

  15. April Streeter says:

    Patronizing list to be sure – it’s one of the reasons I continue to be fascinated with the women who first rode – and it was much earlier, and many more of them, than we have all been lead to believe. Here’s Bertha, one of the first women to cycle…

  16. Adrienne says:

    “Don’t cultivate a bike face” and ” Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers” are both things, that had I known them previously, may have prevented some unfortunate incidents.

  17. I am so going to ask everyone what they think of my bloomers at the next Tweed Ride…

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