By Caitlin Giddings
Are you a female bike rider who races, rides centuries, or simply pedals up hills unassisted? Or a woman with a carefully cultivated “bicycle face,” who wears bright leggings, boasts of long rides and screams every time she encounters a cow? If so, according to an 1895 edition of the Newark Sunday Advocate, you are a danger to yourself and society, and you should probably stop discussing your bloomers with every man you know.
Lists of Note posted the following list of “Don’ts for Women Riders,” which was originally published on the heels of an 1895 article about the Unique Cycling Club of Chicago’s punishment of two female cyclists with the audacity to show up wearing skirts over their bloomers.
The list, which addresses a number of bloomer-related cycling gaffes, is a mix of fashion and safety advice that sheds some light on the state of women’s cycling during the American bicycle boom of the 1890s. The bicycle might have been a source of freedom during the early stages of the women’s liberation movement, but it’s clear there were still restrictions on how far and fast respectable women should ride—not to mention the advisability of garden party hats.
DON’TS FOR WOMEN RIDERSDon’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 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 you 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.
Read the full story at Lists of Note.