For me, it has been a recent discovery and a pleasant discovery I might add.
Having a flow-on effect, with motivation to clean up my bike that has been sitting in our apartment block shed for quite a few months. Very neglected though still loved just not very often during the colder months.
I have wanted to join a smallish women’s cycling group. With my fervent searches resulting in clubs for the tight lycra types that zoom too fast down the hills around Tauranga, for mine liking. I love to get my heart racing just not particularly partial to picking myself off the tarmac. So zooming too fast around town or the countryside just isn’t for me and going too slow wasn’t going to achieve me topping up my fitness.
I needed something in between.
Then I spotted something quirky, something fun, something that might just fit “Me” to a T. In this particular case, it started with an F as in Frocks on Bikes the Tauranga chapter.
While I reignite my relationship with said dusty web filled bike and wait for the next Frocks on Bikes event, let me share some information regarding how important it was for women to have their own bikes.
What did cycling mean for women 100+ years ago?
You can imagine the incredible feeling of freedom experienced by women when the safety bicycle was invented in the 1880s. Cycling was an activity that women could do equally with men. This activity of biking helped spur a growing movement of women who wanted to wear pants, first it was the biking bloomers. Next came the rational dress movement, as there was a need for more practical clothing, so the bicycle really is tied in with the history of feminism and the suffrage movement.
NZ women were [and still are] huge enthusiasts for biking. Kate Sheppard was one of the pioneering cyclists and a member of the Atalanta cycling club in Christchurch. Kate and the suffragists used their bicycles, collecting many of the 32,000 signatures that secured women the vote. I thank them for their activism, determination and acknowledge the role of the bike in the emancipation of women.
Kate Sheppard’s great, great niece, Barb Cuthbert, who is also an activist working on getting more New Zealanders cycling every day.
Just by riding a bicycle as a woman, we are all demanding freedom of the road and investment in cycling infrastructure.
Frocks on Bikes
Was founded 10 years ago to promote women cycling, and there has been a significant increase in the numbers of female cyclists over that decade.
There are a lot more women on bikes and a lot more people cycling every day.
So next time you hop on your bike “to do something fun” give a moment to all those women before us who used their bikes to provide them with a sense of freedom and assist in their fight and right to vote.
Like those before me, I too enjoy that feeling of freedom riding on my bike.