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Women cyclists: free and daring

Riding a bicycle, like so many other activities, was not encouraged in the extremely patriarchal society of the time. Although the history of the bicycle dates back to 1817, it was not until 1890 that women began to use this mode of transport.

It was not an easy task to ride a bicycle with a voluminous dress and an oppressive corset. It was not until the advent of the "gooseneck" model that the first women, mainly from the wealthier classes, were finally able to enjoy this new form of mobility.

The beginnings of a new freedom

From the 1880s onwards, the popularity of the bicycle grew and it became more accessible to all social classes. More and more people, including women, bought bicycles.

For women, the bicycle became synonymous with emancipation. It gave them the opportunity to travel freely, without having to depend on their husbands. They gained the right to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

A turning point towards greater rights and emancipation thanks to the bicycle

"The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world. I'm always delighted to see a woman on a bike," said Susan B. Anthony, a campaigner for women's rights, in 1896.

The right to pedal breathed a wind of change into women, offering them a new freedom. These women, confined to their homes, were able to explore new horizons thanks to the bicycle. The emancipation of women and the march towards greater gender equality were also fostered by the bicycle. Women who made history dared to claim the right to wear trousers and decided to cycle in spite of prejudice.

The fashion revolution continues

The cycling revolution was accompanied by a major revolution in women's clothing, giving them the freedom to wear trousers for greater practicality. Gradually, the traditional petticoat began to give way to women's trousers, epitomised by the bloomer, created in the United States by Amélia Bloomer, a feminist activist and suffragette.

These baggy trousers, named after their creator, offered far greater mobility than the skirts and petticoats of the time.

The change was so radical that it led to the drafting of two circulars stipulating that women were only allowed to wear trousers if they were "holding bicycle handlebars in their hands".


Today, cycling has become a widely adopted means of transport. Nevertheless, some debates persist, particularly about the practicality of sportswear for women.

Moreover, even today, in some parts of the world, women's access to cycling remains limited, and their presence in the cycling community is still insufficient.

In Brussels, a growing number of women, including mothers, have made cycling their daily means of transport. Innovative solutions like our Treebikes are specially designed to make their lives easier, enabling them to transport their belongings or their children with ease.

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