February 3, 2012 - women in bloomers

Filed under Book Research

This week, I read Wheels of Chance: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way), by Sue Macy. I love the title, and the book is excellent, especially if you’re interested in bicycles, women’s rights, clothing trends, female athletes, or history.

Wheels of Chance is published by the National Geographic Society and is very focused on U.S. history. I did find a reference to my hometown of Victoria, BC, though, and its contents made me laugh:

British Columbia Police Object to a Woman’s Bicycle Costume

March 25, 1895 – Victoria, B.C. – The police have decided that bloomers are not suitable for street wear, even when worn as a bicycling costume, and have taken steps to enforce this decision. Miss Ethel Delmont is an enthusiastic wheel woman, pretty and graceful. Last week she made her appearance in the bloomer costume and if Lady Godiva had herself essayed a repetition of her famous ride the sensation could not have been greater. The town came forth to gaze, and for the moment the police were petrified with amazement. Then they were aroused to action and Miss Ethel was informed that a repetition of her appearance in that costume would mean a police court summons on the charge of creating a disturbance on the public street.