Women on Wheels

Women on Wheels: The Scandalous Untold Histories of Women in Bicycling

by April Streeter Author

A feminist bicycle history

A feminist history of bicycling for sport and adventure spans a century of women who changed the world from two wheels. This vivacious tale, peppered with fascinating details from primary sources, shows how women were sometimes the stars of bicycle races and exhibitions, and other times had to overcome sexism, exclusion, and economic inequalities in order to ride. From the almost burlesque show races and creative performances of the 19th century to the evolution of cycling as a modern sport and form of transportation, April Streeter brings her exuberant eye for character, fashion, and story to convey the evolving emotional resonance of bicycling for women and their communities. She interweaves pedal-powered history with profiles of bicyclists who made their mark, like Katharine Hepburn, Annie Londonderry, Kittie Knox, Dorothy Lawrence, Louise Armaindo, and more. 

Comments & Reviews


"Kept women and gamblers, lawyers, hustlers, soldiers in disguise pedaling to war, dreamers and pin-up girls...these women elbowed their way into the saddle, virtually forgotten by history. Thanks to Streeter and her finely written compilation, we know their names, and when they took the podium in front of men or dared to wear pantaloons to bike to work. Our helmets are off to these figures, and to Streeter!"


"Comprehensive, well researched, and inquisitive, Women on Wheels is a revelation about the perseverance of women determined to cycle despite being shut out, too often, by men. Wheels opens with Streeter wondering why cycling in her bike friendly town of Portland, Oregon had become so competitive. Where was the joy? Where does a woman who “wants only to ride,” fit in a testosterone-heavy field of Lance Armstrong wanna-be’s? And we are off, as readers, on the adventure of the history of cycling from the point of view of women and their efforts to participate on their own terms. Inspiring, maddening, and thought provoking, Wheels asks important questions about this necessary mode of transportation and invites us to rethink our own attitudes about using two wheels instead of four."


"Streeter inspires! This dive into the hidden history of women’s cycling is at times as thrilling as it is heartbreaking. The struggles and triumphs of these two-wheeled trailblazers are eerily similar to what women today still experience, yet we learn how much was sacrificed for us to be able to grab our rides (wearing whatever we want) and pedal into our own adventures today."


"As Streeter shows with captivating profiles, every chapter in bicycle history has its heroines. This is an entertaining, enlightening and long overdue contribution to cycling lore."


"Ever since bicycles were invented, women have been riding them, for sport, fun, entertainment, and revolution. April Streeter's careful research and spirited writing capture the wild, weird, wonderful, and serious story of bicycling through the perspective of these highly skilled riders whose stories have been all but lost to history—until now."