Wheels of Change

Wheels of Change

How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with A Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

Book - 2011
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Explore the role the bicycle played in the women's liberation movement.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2011
ISBN: 9781426307614
Branch Call Number: 796.6082 MACY
Characteristics: 96 p. : ill. (some col.), col. map ; 27 cm
Additional Contributors: National Geographic Society (U.S.)


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1dreamer Jan 03, 2016

The bicycle is such a common item that we take it for granted. This book tells the history of the bicycle and the impact it had on women's lives. It is for young readers, but I think adults will enjoy all the information it has. The bicycle really had a major impact on society, all over the world.

Nov 19, 2012

This was the second book I read for the 2012 YALSA Best of the Best Reading Challenge. Last year our library system’s Youth Services staff had a Mock Sibert Award program and this book was one of the nominees. I never had the chance to read it at the time. But I am glad I took the time to go back and read it now. I had never really thought about how something as simple as the development of the bicycle could have a big impact on our culture. Susan B. Anthony said about bicycling that “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” (in “Champion of Her Sex,” by Nellie Bly, New York World, Feb. 2, 1896 as quote in Wheels of Change.) Well-written and entertaining, definitely worth reading!


Out of curiosity, I checked to see how the Library of Congress categorized this particular book. I found that they prefer to place the book under the subject “1. Cycling for women–United States–History.” Well, luck to you if you hope to find a companion novel in your children’s section under that subject heading. Macy herself provides many a fine title in her Resources section at the back of the book, but you will find all the titles there are for adults. To find such a book for kids is rare and wonderful. To find that the book itself is ALSO rare and wonderful is just a nice plus. A great idea, a fine follow through, and a subject that has been too little considered until now. It’s enough to make you want to grab a helmet and a bike and to try it out for yourself.


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Oct 26, 2013

I bet you would never guess that something as simple as the invention of the bicycle could play such a significant role in the lives of women, but it did. Macy shares a spectacular journey of the bicycle and its roll in moving the fight for the rights of women to the fore front. Macy introduces readers to pedaling pantaloon wearing women and their passion for the right to ride. This awesome collection displays photos from the era, articles and advertisements of the ever-changing times. Innovative women like Kate Parke who invented the first bike lock, Alice A. Bennitt who invented a bike canopy, Mary F Henderson who invented the bike saddle. So many women were becoming more liberated from this great invention. The 1800's was a time for women to start showing they could be active in the community by supporting each other, taking care of their homes and turning their hobbies into an income. Macy thrusts readers into the world of men and how women plunged right through it holding their own. Celebrities in their own right include Belva Lockwood, the first women to appear on the official ballot as a candidate for U.S. President, Katherine Wright an avid cyclist, whose brothers were Orville and Wilbur Wright, Annie Oakley rode a bike and so did Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie. New clothing designs were popping up in shops and magazines everywhere, enticing women to ride in comfort. Women of all colors, shapes and sizes were expressing themselves and becoming more and more liberated each day. I highly recommend this exciting memorabilia filled book for readers of all ages. The back of the book showcases a history of women from 1770 to 1920. Educational and fun this is a great resource for parents and teachers.


Macy begins her book with a short essay by Leah Missbach Day, co-founder of World Bicycle Relief, which vows to provide bikes to those in need. Through her eyes we see women around the globe coming into their own all thanks to the power of the bike. With this idea fresh in our minds, we watch the rise of the bicycle itself. Its history, its influence, the changes it went through, etc. Slowly, we also see how its very appearance affected women. Suddenly girls had a mobility they’d never encountered before. The new invention caught on like wildfire amongst women as diverse as Annie Oakley and Marie Curie. There was some resistance to the idea of girls on bikes, sure, but Ms. Macy takes care to show how bicycles inspired everything from new fashions to daredevil races. Her story stops in the early twentieth century (in tandem with the slow rise of the automobile) and she includes in the back of the book a hugely helpful timeline of “Highlights in cycling and women’s history”, a list of Resources (including books, web sites, and places to visit like the Bicycle Museum of America and the Metz Bicycle Museum), Sources, and an Index.


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