Safety Bicycle for 19th Century Women

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Design Classic – Influential and important design

Safety Bicycle for women
Safety Bicycle for women

Bicycle

  • Designer: Hendee Mfg. Co.
  • Material: string, rubber, wood, leather, metal
  • Location: Springfield, MA, Springfield, MA

The “safety” bicycle, initially introduced in 1887, propelled the late-nineteenth-century bicycling mania to new heights. While the regular bike needed great skill due to its giant front wheel and small rear wheel, safety bicycles could be ridden by anyone. They had two equal-sized wheels, and in 1889, manufacturers fitted them with mass-produced pneumatic (air-filled) tyres, which made the ride a little more comfortable.

This safety bicycle, produced circa 1910 by the Hendee Manufacturing Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, allowed ladies to ride easily without tangles in their skirts thanks to its dropped central bar and fenders. Susan B. Anthony, a women’s rights campaigner, praised it in 1896 for accomplishing “more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world,” giving them “a feeling of freedom and self-reliance,” in her opinion. The bicycle revolutionised how women dressed and interacted with men. Bloomers and shorter skirts were praised by reformers as liberating, while detractors thought they were immoral. Bikes were popular among middle-class men and women in the Northeast because they provided a socially acceptable method to go out without being watched by a chaperone.

Sources

Google. (n.d.). Safety bicycle:Indian – Hendee Mfg. Co. – Google Arts & Culture. Google. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/safety-bicycle-indian-hendee-mfg-co/WQFhsNAmnI3W6Q.

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