According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, women riders increased by 34 percent between 1998 and 2003. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says women make up nearly 30 percent of students in its Basic RiderCourses program.
“There are more than 4.3 million women motorcyclists on the road today, and more are joining our ranks every day,” says Beth Hazen, a motorcyclist and Nationwide Insurance agent. “Women’s Motorcycle Month celebrates the pioneers who broke down gender and racial barriers in the early days of motorcycling, and we hope their stories inspire even more women to consider getting out on bikes or scooters this summer.”
To commemorate Women’s Motorcycle Month, Nationwide honors 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 the 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 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.
“These women are inspiring to all riders,” says Mark Mederski, executive director of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. “And the Hall of Fame encourages motorcyclists to nominate more remarkable women for inclusion.”