As I was walking home from campus the other day, I had an amazing realization. For many years I've been wondering why men's bikes have a crossbar and women's don't. After all, men are more likely to want to avoid having something to land on if they slip forward off the seat. Why would women's bikes have the crossbar missing? Presumably men's bikes existed first, since that's things have typically gone. Someone must have deliberately made bikes without that, but how does being female lead to not having such a thing? I've had discussions about this quite a number of times, and no one has ever given me a satisfactory answer during these discussions.
Well, as I said, the reason has now occurred to me, and I think our contemporary situation keeps us from seeing what would have been obvious to anyone a couple generations ago. What I saw when walking home was a woman riding a bike, which I've seen before. What was different this time was that she was wearing a skirt. It wasn't just a skirt. It was a long skirt, and it went down to her ankles. Yet she had no trouble reaching the pedals. Nowadays women wouldn't ordinarily wear a skirt on a bike if they can help it, and if they do it probably wouldn't go down to their ankles. That's why it doesn't occur to most people today to think that a bike would be designed for someone wearing a skirt, but in those days women didn't wear pants very often if at all. They needed a bike that could allow them to have wear a skirt or a dress without interfering with functionality or modesty. It seems obvious once you think about it.