An interesting article “How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women's Rights” in the well-respected on-line newspaper The Atlantic describes the revolution of the bicycle and a number of fascinating if not downright frightening comments from a (male) writer at the time.
In part the article notes:
By the 1890s, America was totally obsessed with the bicycle—which by then looked pretty much like the ones we ride today. There were millions of bikes on the roads and a new culture built around the technology. People started "wheelmen" clubs and competed in races. They toured the country and compared tricks and stunts.
The craze was meaningful, especially, for women. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that "woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle," a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century. The bicycle took "old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex," as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with "some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel." And it gave women a new level of transportation independence that perplexed newspaper columnists across the country.
"As you are all so well aware, Boston is famed for her intellectuals...There is a delicate grace and refinement limned upon the canvas, so to speak, that is as transcendental in its esoteric concept of the metempsychosis of a plate of beans as there is in the sacred codfish that flutters its ichthyological tail over the golden dome of the State House."
New York City, naturally, was noted for its "inimitable stylishness...which cannot be found in any other limbscape on the continent."
In Denver—"what a change has the bicycle wrought!"—women's ankles surpassesd its "distant snow-white mountains as the finest sight on earth"