Welcome to the second issue of the Lists of Note newsletter: each Sunday, a fascinating list from history. If you haven’t already, sign up.
On June 21, 1895, the Newark Sunday Advocate ran an alarming story, syndicated from New York World, about a recent gathering of the Unique Cycling Club of Chicago—an event that saw two lady riders publicly shamed for having the audacity to turn up wearing short skirts over their bloomers. The story can be read below, as can an eye-opening list that followed the piece, printed in an effort to better educate female cyclists in light of the bloomer fiasco and titled, “Don’ts for Women Riders”.
The Unique Cycling club of Chicago is all that its name implies. One of its laws is that on all runs bloomers and knickerbockers shall be worn, and two members who disobeyed this rule recently met with a punishment that they will not forget soon. Union park was the rendezvous for the last run, and 50 members turned out. The president, Miss Bunker, observed two women wearing short skirts over their bloomers.
“Take the skirts off,” ordered Captain Bunker.
“Indeed we won’t,” was the reply.
A crowd of 200 had collected to see the start. The president and the captain held a consultation, and then, taking several strong armed members with them, fell on the skirt wearers and stripped them down to their bloomers.
“It was done in all seriousness,” said Mrs. Langdon. “The club’s rules are made to be kept and not to be broken. Why did we take off the skirts in public? For no other reason but to make examples of the offenders. They publicly defied our rules and were published accordingly.”
DON’TS FOR WOMEN RIDERS
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 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.
The above list is one of 125 that feature in the Lists of Note book, first published in 2014 and now—to my dismay—out of print whilst millions of genuinely terrible titles take up valuable shelf space around the country (I’m not bitter!). If you’d like one, I’m selling the last copies of its gorgeous special edition here.
I’m presuming they mean a 100km ride.
I’m not sure what this means. If you know, leave a comment.
Regarding footnote 2, kerosene lights for bicycles were used by the end of the 19th century. Presumably if your lights were off at dusk, the cyclist should not neglect the cry of “lights out” from a helpful passer-by and turn them on. Or the reverse at dawn.
I very much doubt an American cycling club in the 1890’s would deal in kilometres. Equally I don’t see 100 mile or even 100km outings being common at a time when “ women’s frailty” was so meticulously guarded. Tokyo Olympics 1964 was the first such event to allow women to run further than the 400 metres.