Bicycle Diaries: <i>Morals of wheelwoman</i>

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Morals of wheelwoman

Chicago police captain
thinks bike use dangerous
for the ladies

Here's another charmer from an ancient relative's knickknacks. It appeared in The New York Times, 16 May 1889:
CHICAGO, May 15. -- The Rev. W.W. Reynolds, pastor of the Brightwood Methodist Church of Indianapolis, recently wrote to Capt. Luke Colleran, Chief of the Chicago Detective Department, inquiring if the use of the bicycle among women had affected their morality in any perceptible manner. Although not offering statistics, Capt. Colleran's reply deals with the subject in a positive manner. He writes:

"I am not an advocate of the use of the bicycle among women, when viewing it from a morality phase. Women of refinement and exquisite moral training addicted to the use of the bicycle are not infrequently thrown among the uncultivated and degenerate element of both sexes, whose coarse, boisterous, and immoral gestures are heard and seen while speeding along our streets and boulevards. Many doubtless escape the contamination, although the contagion be ever present.

"A large number of our female bicyclists wear shorter dresses than the laws of morality and decency permit, thereby inviting the improper conversations and remarks of the depraved and immoral. I most certainly consider the adoption of the bicycle by women as detrimental to the advancement of morality -- nay, even its stability. I have always entertained deep sympathy for the hosts of noble and honorable ladies, who while riding their wheels are frequently associated with women whose morality will not stand investigation and whose conversation is invariably coarse and undignified."

On being asked for an expression of opinion, Mrs. Charles Henrotin said:

"This Indianapolis minister must be very hard up for subjects. Perhaps he considers that he has conquered the devil in his own dominions and must go forth to conquer him in new fields. Why should cycling be restricted to men? I don't see that they have any superior rights in the matter. It is an exercise conducive to good health and good spirits, and certainly there is nothing improper in it."

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