Bicycle‘s role in women‘s liberation celebrated

Cyclists donned 1800s garb and took to the streets of Nelson yesterday evening to celebrate the bicycle and its role in liberating women.

The Bloomers and Tweed Bicycle Ride. Photo: John-Paul Pochin

The Bloomers and Tweed Bicycle Ride, organised by cycling advocacy group Bicycle Nelson Bays, is part of the city‘s annual heritage festival.

English settlers arrived in Whakatu in 1841 and eventually renamed it Nelson. Its history is showcased at Founders Heritage Park, a living museum with a vintage railway, where last night‘s cycle event started.

Organiser John-Paul Pochin of Bicycle Nelson Bays said the 1800s dress code was a way to mark the date 122 years ago that the National Council of Women was founded with Kate Sheppard as chair.

The English-born activist was a leader in the woman suffrage movement in New Zealand, and was instrumental in making New Zealand the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote.

“The bicycle really became a symbol of women‘s liberation and now it still represents freedom for a lot of people,” Mr Pochin said.

Nelson‘s heritage festival features talks and activities at the city‘s art galleries, the museum, heritage homes, and a guided tour of early Nelson leaders‘ grave sites,

It ends on 29 April with tangata whenua events at Whakatu Marae.