Photograph of a nude woman from behind standing in front of a bicycle on a light brown background
The Safety Bicycle shown on this button was a model popularized in the 1890s. It was the first bicycle made that is similar to what we have today. At the time it was praised for its health benefits and seen as an equalizer, as one of the few things that put the poor man on the same level as the rich man. The Safety Bicycle was created in 1885 by John Kemp Starley in Britain and although not the first bicycle created, was the first bicycle that women were allowed to ride.
Prior to Starley’s creation the Penny Farthing bicycle was popular. It was named so due to the two British coins that its large front and small back wheels resembled. This earlier model bicycle required a jump start to mount, and as such it was seen as a recreational sport that only able-bodied men could participate in. These models, popular in the 1870s, were also expensive, which limited the potential users to not only men, but well-to-do men.
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