Why I'm Drawing a Coloring Book - Part II

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

I'm interested in creating culture shift. How about you? I'm interested in people of all ages and all walks of life being able to have easy, safe, fun opportunities to replace short car trips by biking, walking and taking public transit.

Why? Because it could not only vastly reduce pollution, but it's great for the mind, body and spirit. Oh yes, and it saves you money.

So I'm drawing a colouring book.

I'm also drawing a colouring book because I love the story of the bicycle as an empowerment tool for women and girls from any background. Just last week I realised that the Pedal Love Coloring Book needs to be called Pedal Love: Girls Ride colouring book. And as a storyteller interested in elevating the voice and impact of women, my colouring book needs to celebrate female change agents in bicycling and equal rights and other realms.

I need this first book to tell the story of some of the very first groundbreaking women who rode bicycles like Kittie Knox.

I found out about Kittie about six months ago when I decided I wanted to draw one of the first female suffragettes who bicycled. I was working on my talk as part of a storytelling jam I was giving at the opening of the National Bike Summit with other Pedal Love Council Members last March.

I Googled the term and up popped images of a young woman I'd somehow missed - Kittie Knox (also known as Katie Knox). Was Kittie a suffragette? I don't think we know for certain, but I can't imagine she wasn't. Nonetheless, her story is still very inspiring and needs to be heard by a much larger audience. The Bike League, Bicycling Magazine,  and the Boston Globe have all written about her. Actually, she's been in the Boston Globe more than once.

But I believe her story deserves to be a movie. So I'll do what I can with my colouring book to get the word out. Would you like to help make that happen? You can donate to support my creating the book here.

Kittie was from Boston and very active in the bicycling scene there. She was a card carrying member of the League of Bicyclists (then The League of American Wheelmen), and known for placing well in road races even when competing against men. Her story went nation wide when she tried to attend the national League of American Wheelmen;s national summit in New Jersey in 1895.

Kittie was turned away, not because she wasn't a member, she was, but because she was biracial.

The inspiration comes from the fact that Kittie didn't go away quietly. While her friends from Boston worked to get her in - after all she had been a member of the League since before they'd passed the color bar - she stayed outside the entrance riding her bike. She intrigued the media with her masterful bike moves and her story caught on like fire. She was only 21 at the time.

Sadly at 26, she died of Kidney disease. Her family's financial situation was such that they couldn't afford a marker for her grave at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Her grave didn't receive a marker until 2013 after bicycle advocate and writer Lorenz Finison came across her name and images several times when working on the history of cycling in Boston.

Intrigued? You can learn more in this insightful piece in The Boston Globe.

I've drawn Kittie once but I'm redrawing her for the colouring book because I want to set a scene and create an illustration that will be more fun to colour. It's not easy to capture her because the images I have aren't very clear. But I'm doing my best. What do you think?