In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s hard not to notice the rising number of women getting into the sport of motorcycling. In fact, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), women riders increased by 34% between 1998 and 2003. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) also says women make up nearly 30% of students in its Basic RiderCourses program.
Just how many female riders are there? The MIC estimates there are nearly 4.5 million women riders on the road today, or about one out of every ten riders, and that number is climbing. These women tend to be affluent, mature and well educated, having taken the motorcycle safety course with a better completion rate than men.
To commemorate Women’s Motorcycle Month, let’s look back at the contributions of four female members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Adeline and Augusta Van Buren: In 1916, the Van Buren sisters rode a pair of Indian motorcycles from coast to coast to become the first women to ride across the continent. While American soldiers were fighting in World War One, the Van Buren sisters rode to convince the military to allow women to help as dispatch riders delivering messages between units on the warfront. Though the military remained unswayed by their demonstration, the Van Burens broke many of the early twentieth century’s stereotypes about women.
Bessie Stringfield: The Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Stringfield completed eight solo cross-country tours and served as a dispatch rider for the U.S. Army in the 30s and 40s. As an African American who journeyed through the racially tense southern states during her many tours, Stringfield broke both gender and racial barriers.
Dot Robinson: In 1939, Robinson co-founded Motor Maids of America, one of the oldest and successful women’s riding organizations in North America. As an Enduro racer, Robinson became the first woman to win in AMA national competition.
Are you a female rider, or know of an inspirational female rider? Tell us your story in the comments section below.