How Women led the Bicycle Revolution?
On June 3, when we celebrate World Bicycle Day, we must thank the women’s fraternity for making ‘Cycling’ a global hit.
When the motorcycles started ruling the Indian roads after the LPG policy (liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation) was introduced, everyone thought it would sound a death knell for bicycles.
Besides, attractive and hassle-free two-wheeler loans made it easy for the common man, especially, women to afford a two-wheeler.
Even then, bicycles refuse to fade out of the scene. In many parts of rural India like Tamilnadu, cycling became a social movement. Many women have taken to bicycling as a symbol of independence and mobility.
In Pune, when an NGO called Ashta No Kai introduced a project called ‘Bicycle bank’, it led to a revolutionary change that helped many girls to pursue their education, most of them otherwise would have ended up as child brides. Their schools were so far away that most of them had no choice other than opting out of schools. The situation was no different in Andhra Pradesh too. The bicycles had reduced the rate of school dropouts to a great extent.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that in rural India girls ride bicycles to chase their dreams.
Women’s rights leader Susan B Anthony once said that the bicycle “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world”, because, in the 19th century, bicycles were the symbol of women’s bid for freedom and self-determination. It has given her the freedom of mobility and self-confidence.
Munsey’s Magazine in 1896 rightly wrote, “To men, the bicycle, in the beginning, was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was a steed upon which they rode into a new world.”
Bicycles and cycling become a fashion when women widely accept it.
Now cycling has swept across the cities of India and riding expensive bicycles alone or with a group of friends is the new fashion. From an affordable means of transport, in no time, it has become an expensive indulgence.
Apart from it, the cycles have now become a symbol of a healthy lifestyle and mental well being. The experts say regular cycling could reduce depression and anxiety issues.
History of Cycle
In 1816, Karl Drais von Sauerbronn, a German baron, had invented the bicycle, a wooden frame with two wheels, which moved forward only if the user pushed hard on the ground using his feet.
Drais took his invention to France and to England, where it became popular. A British coach maker named Denis Johnson marketed his version, called “pedestrian curricles,” to London’s pleasure-seeking aristocrats. Soon, London society was engulfed in the madness of two-wheel drive.
A gentleman on a bicycle was the sign of virility, but for women, the habit of riding a bicycle was considered inappropriate.
Mikael Colville-Andersen, a Canadian-Danish urban designer and mobility expert is credited with helping to turn cycling into a globally popular transportation mode as it is today. In June 2007, he started the Cycle Chic blog, in which he posted photos of bicyclists in the capital city of Denmark, especially women riders dressed in trendy and fashionable clothing.