Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers
was one piece of advice given to female cyclists in 1895 (New York World), along with the equally outrageous,
Don’t appear to be up on ‘records’ or ‘record smashing’ – that is sporty
Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well
There was more of this serious advice along this patronising line in New York World in 1895, as quoted in the BBC article here. The article ‘What is stopping women from cycling?’ in yesterday’s BBC News discusses the reasons women cite for their lack of cycling. According to the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, 50% fewer women than men cycle twice a week or more. One worrying reason is harassing comments from males, but also lack of ability, concerns over appearance, road safety and inadequate shower facilities at workplaces are putting women off.
Although the valid reasons for non-participation discussed are disturbing and discouraging, the article goes on to explore solutions for women who want to cycle more, such as joining in women-only cycle rides organised by Breeze, British Cycling’s campaign group to get more women cycling regularly. Breeze aims to build women’s confidence in cycling so more of us can get out there and get fit.
In Sport England’s words, This Girl Can.