Bicycles, believe it or not, killed the era of the corset. In the late 19th century, when a Scottish inventor who practiced veterinary medicine in Ireland developed the first pneumatic tire–rubber filled with compressed air, the kind we’re familiar with today–it made bikes the common man and woman’s method of transport. Women started commuting to their factory jobs on bicycles, consequently realizing they needed to breathe to do so. And thus, the death of the caged torso.
Whatever role the two-wheeled vehicle may have played in the advent of feminism, it actually arrived on the scene much earlier. Take a quick scan of the latest from the prolific Pop Chart Lab team, and it’s clear that the birth date of the bike clocks in around the early 1800s. Less clear, however, is which exact model came first. Was it the tricycle, or the Draisienne?