Activism with Mary Frances

Mary Frances has never hesitated to express her support for causes she believes through articles, letters, demonstrations and by example.  She has written letters to presidents about wars, to mayors about bike policies and to the pope about his acceptance of Palestine. Wherever she has lived, including New York, Dhaka and Shanghai she has a stream of letters to the editor in the local news documenting what she thinks is working or isn’t. She has participated in political movements for Bangladesh’s independence and ridden in pro-bike demonstrations in New York and Shanghai.  She has lived a life of fearless advocacy for causes she believes in.

Bike Advocacy

Since she first rode a bike at 5, Mary Frances has made it her mission around the world to encourage the use of bikes instead of cars.  In the early 1970s, she was among the original handful of members at Transportation Alternatives leading demonstrations for better bike awareness in New York.  She has spread her message and her enthusiasm for bikes wherever she has traveled.  Riding her fold-up Dahon down city streets in Europe, Asia, and Central America – she has set an example to us all that a bike is a the best way to travel at any age. 

New York City

By Mary Frances Dunham, Printed by  Bicycle USA, July/August 1989 published by the League of American Wheelmen

In July 1987, Mayor Ed Koch moved to prohibit bicycle-riding on three major Manhattan avenues during weekdays. Cyclists responded with an uproarious campaign to win back public opinion and overturn the Midtown Bike Ban. How this campaign unified and invigorated the bicycle community was recounted by Mary Frances Dunham, a longtime cycling activist, in the July/August 1989 Bicycle USA, published by the League of American Wheelmen.

New York City

Chapter 19 by Mary Frances Dunham. Bicycle Blueprint, published by Transportation Alternatives, New York 1993

India & Bangladesh

Delhi newspaper, Evening News, Nov 12, 1990. Interview with Mary Frances Dunham about her Dahon folding bike.

Riding against the tide in India

By Mary Frances Dunham, Printed in Bike Report, Oct/Nov 1992 Vol.18, No. 9

“My bicycle with its small wheels and foldable frame attracts attention wherever I use it, but never more than on a recent rip to some of South Asia’s most car-infested cities.  People gathered to watch me fold my bike before taking it into shops and offices.  They would wait for my exit to see how the bike unfolds and ask how such small wheels could “work,” where the bicycle was made and how much it cost.”

A New York City Cyclist in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1993-1994

By Mary Frances Dunham, printed in Bicycle USA Vol. XXXI No.2 March/April 1995

“Although I am a seasoned cyclist from the streets of New York, cycling in Dhaka’s traffic during a recent stay there was decidedly a n6w adventure.”


Letter to the editor by Mary Frances Dunham. Printed in Shanghai Daily, Feb. 11, 2010.


Article by Nancy Zhang about Mary Frances Dunham. Printed in Shanghai Daily,  March 10, 2010.

Article by Mary Frances Dunham, printed in A to B, Oct, 2010.

1971 Bangladesh Liberation War

In 1971, my mother was among a large number of Americans who gathered from all over the country in support of the Bangladesh Liberation War. In Washington, DC they led a successful grassroots lobby to educate Congress on the atrocities of the war and the need to stop US military support to West Pakistan.  Most of my mom’s archives of this time have been donated to the Bangladesh Liberation War Museum in Dhaka.

This interview with Katherine Dunham was done as part of the Friends of the Liberation War ceremony in Dhaka, Bangladesh Oct 2013.

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