My favorite quote from Susan B. Anthony sums up the play. She said, "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
But the best part of all for me was that Amelia, one of the "factory girls," was a child of 12, played by Remsen Welsh. She befriends Anne, who also teaches her to ride a bike. She gives a soliloquy at the end of the play that brought tears to my eyes. No doubt partly because in 2013, females still constitute just 25 percent of cyclists in America, and I and several other volunteers from Elm City Cycling had just finished running a Girls' Bike Club through Farnam Neighborhood House, one of the city's youth programs. The girls -- all around 10 years old -- were so full of energy and enthusiasm. Pictured above are five of the participants, who are demonstrating the "power position" on their pedals, ready to push off and start riding (something that I finally agreed is a good idea for my own riding, having preferred for decades the "cowboy" style of swinging my leg over the top bar, before realizing that the way the girls are setting up is more controlled and powerful).
On the last day we rode to a playground on the beautiful Quinnipiac River, where they happily swung on the monkey bars, turned cartwheels and ran through the sprinklers. I kept thinking how cool it was that they got there under their own power. What a confidence builder!
Can't wait for the day when all of us cyclists --from 8 to 80, including 10-year-old girls -- can ride in safety all over town.