The Damned Yankee and I have discussed many times the danger associated with early women riders who wore skirts and even split skirts while riding. I would have been one of those women ridiculed and belittled for wearing “brother’s breeches”, because I’d be much less bothered by busy-bodies meddling in my business than by getting a skirt caught in the moving parts of my bike and tumbling head over heels down the road. I’ve recently seen several articles from the early 20th century addressing this issue and will post some of them periodically for your reading pleasure.
The following article is from the San Diego Union on Sept. 24, 1913.
WOMAN WOULD WEAR TROUSERS
“I don’t want to dress up exactly like a man, but I would like to wear a pair of trousers,” said a young woman who appeared at Police Headquarters last evening. “Because,” she added hastily, “I ride a motorcycle with my husband, and we are out a great deal. Do you think they would arrest me on the charge of masquerading as a man if I dressed that way? It is so comfortable.”
Sgt. Johnson considered the matter carefully.
The anxious visitor further explained that she had been in the habit of wearing leggings and a sweater, but the bloomer or divided skirt was not the thing at all for a woman rider of a motorcycle. The Sgt. finally passed judgment on the proposition. He said that as far as he could see there was nothing immodest in the attire described to him. Inasmuch as the fair motorcyclist wore her hair in two long braids, it was evident that she would not conceal her sex or impersonate a man, simply by wearing a pair of comfortable trousers.
It was the opinion of the Sgt. therefore that the law concerning masquerading would not be violated should the young lady dress herself in the manner described.
Motorcycle Officer Hopkins concurred in the decision: “I have observed,” said Hopkins, “that the bloomer and split skirt both are dangerous when it comes to riding a motorcycle. The rider who wears these kind of garments runs the risk of having the cloth caught in the spokes of the wheel, the rider then would be thrown and hurt.”