July is Women’s Motorcycle Month. If you’ve been riding a motorcycle for a while, you may have noticed more and more women on bikes. While only ten percent of motorcyclists are women, pioneering women have made significant marks in the history of motorcycling.
We take this time to acknowledge women who have made significant contributions to motorcycling history:
- In 1916, the U.S. was getting ready to enter into World War I. The U.S. needed dispatch riders to deliver messages from military headquarters to active units. Sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren believed that women could do this work and free up men for other tasks. The Van Buren sisters rode first 5,500 miles and crossed the U.S. in 60 days to show that they were capable riders. They were the first women to reach the top of Pike’s Peak by vehicle and among the first motorcyclists to cross the continental U.S. Despite their achievements, the sisters’ applications to become dispatch riders were denied. But, they showed that women could handle motorcycles and led the way for other women in motorcycling.
- Theresa Wallach was an English motorcyclist who rode during the 1930s and 40s. Wallach grew up near a British motorcycle plant and was taught to ride by her friends. She tried to become a member of a local motorcycling club, but was turned down because of her gender. Wallach began to compete in local motorcycle races. Her parents made her hide her trophies because being a woman motorcyclist was not acceptable at that time.
Wallach was finally accepted by the British racing establishment after she and a friend traveled more than 6,000 miles from London to Cape Town, South Africa. The women braved deserts, wild animals, politics and nomads. Wallach wrote about the journey in her book, The Rugged Road.
During World War II, Wallach became the first female dispatch rider in the British Army. After the war, Wallach came to North America. She rode 32,000 miles in two and a half years and decided to permanently move to Chicago. Wallach became a motorcycle mechanic and opened her own motorcycle dealership. In 1973, she sold her shop and opened the East Riding Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Bessie Stringfield learned to ride her first motorcycle at the age of 16. In 1931, at the age 19, she became one of the first African American women to ride across the United States. She was often denied accommodation because of her skin color. During the 1930s and 1940s, Stringfield served as a courier for the U.S Army and made eight solo cross-country trips. After war, she settled in Miami where she was told by police that black women could not ride motorcycles. She became a nurse and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club.
- Dot Robinson raced motorcycles in the 1930s, 40s and 50s when there was resistance to the idea of women racers. She was the first woman to win an American Motorcycle Association (AMA). She helped found Motor Maids, the world’s first and largest motorcycle club for women.
These women are among those who paved the way for women in motorcycling. During July, the Rockford motorcycle accident injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham would like to honor the achievements of these pioneers and the women who came after them.
The Rockford motorcycle accident lawyers at Hupy and Abraham are dedicated to helping injured motorcyclists get fair compensation after an Illinois motorcycle crash. To learn more, contact our office at 800-390-6350.