1895: Don’ts for women riders

The below list was originally published by the New York World in 1895.

It’s not known whether the author(s) were male or female, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

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.

Besides, did anyone really think that making a list of 41 “dont’s” would encourage more women to ride?

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

The suggestion to not coast is referring to one taking their feet off the pedals of a fixed gear bicycle on downhills.

Can you really light a match from the seat of your bloomers?

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26 Responses to “1895: Don’ts for women riders”

  1. Aleks Says:

    “Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know” and “Don’t criticize people’s ‘legs'” are just good advice for all riders of all genders in all centuries.

  2. Cathy Says:

    Recently reg “Major Taylor”. Very good.

  3. Esther Says:

    They’d have stoned or jailed me, and twisted my spokes.

  4. Dottie Says:

    This is amazing. Both hilarious and horrifying. I think my favorite is: “Don’t ask, ‘What do you think of my bloomers?'” Very good point about how the golden age wasn’t golden for everyone.

    I’m going to share some of this great advice and link back from my blog. 🙂

    Great find.

  5. cycler Says:

    Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground. umm,….?
    I guess they mean leaning aggressively into turns?

    I will say I agree with “Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.”

  6. Todd Scott Says:

    I wondered about that too. I thought they might be referring to someone who crashes often.

  7. Jessica Says:

    “Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.” … Whaaaa???? The sounds dirty!! 🙂

  8. David Pertuz Says:

    I figured they were talking about riders who have a riding position with an especially low back. Perhaps synonymous, in the lingo of the day, with ‘scorchers.’

  9. Tavolini Says:

    Hahahah–lace up boots are indeed tiresome!

  10. scorcher Says:

    Riding parallel: Superman style with stomach on the saddle…maybe.

  11. dontcoast Says:

    Don’t forget your toolbag. I can get behind that.

    I bet the author also thought ladies shouldn’t wrench on their bikes, so go figure.

    And don’t coast!

  12. Todd Scott Says:

    Yes, here’s a scan of the Oswego Palladium. The article is in the fifth column. Make sure you read the article above it! That might give you some additional material.

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  14. dliu Says:

    Just double checking, this is from the July 11 issue of the New York World, or from the Oswego Palladium, or was it a syndicated article?

  15. Todd Scott Says:

    I think it was syndicated. I found the same list in another paper as well. I could not find on-line archives for the New York World.

  16. Connie D Says:

    I really appreciated the link to the information about Major Taylor. Interesting read. Thank you.

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  20. Heather Says:

    Yes, it was possible to light a match by striking on even a fabric surface — Strike Anywhere Matches are needed. Harder to get these days, but still possible. I still remember some guys in the 60s and 70s who used to show off by striking on their bare arms.

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