All male cycling club, The Pedal Club, has announced that it is now fully open to women for the first time after it was voted on unanimously last week.
Though the rules have existed for decades proposals for change were often put forward to amend the one-sided situation, but these were successfully resisted by a group of ‘social conservatives’.
The rules of the club, written 80 years ago by all men, state that they cannot be changed without a two-thirds majority.
The Pedal Club was founded in 1941 with the intention of providing a discussion forum for leading members of the cycling world. The group would invite ‘prominent public persons’ to address the members and hoped to ‘further the interests of the sport and pastime in all possible ways’.
The club rapidly gained a high public profile: it was known to all within ‘Cycledom’ (as it was then often called) and to many outside the world of cycling.
In the past, guest speakers at the club included government ministers (Philip Noel-Baker, George Strauss and Denis Howell) and overseas celebrities (Hubert Opperman, Jean Bobet).
In the more recent past the club has become less well known and many members believe the all male rule has been largely responsible. It is certainly the case that most public figures now refuse to associate themselves in any way with a men only club.
There remain some industry clubs that stick to archaic rules, including The Pickwick Club – the oldest known bicycle club. On its website it says “The Club values and tries to preserve the traditions of the past. Members gather twice a year, without any strong desire to put the world to rights, and there seems no reason to believe they should not continue to do so long into the future.”