Men-only club in Dayton weighs allowing women

A men-only social club in downtown Dayton is considering opening up its membership to women for the first time.

The Dayton Bicycle Club — now a networking group with little to do with bicycles — asked members to vote on whether to allow women to become members.

A letter sent to members and obtained by the Dayton Daily News said the club is down to 103 members, which is its lowest membership level ever and members are not joining at the same pace they are leaving. Comparatively, the Engineers Club, also a historic club in downtown Dayton with networking and lunch service, had 443 members on its roster in 2017, not including spouses.

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The Dayton Bicycle Club serves lunch and sales were $5,572 in June 2016, $5,008 in June 2017 and $4,141 in June 2018.

“We need to break all of these trends if we’re going to be sustainable,” Dan O’Donnell, president of the Dayton Bicycle Club, wrote in the letter.

When contacted by the Dayton Daily News, O’Donnell said to discuss the idea now “is premature and only brings attention to one of many discussions that will be under the board’s consideration over the next few months. I have no way of knowing, at this time, how these will get prioritized. To speculate now is not fair to our membership.”

The club, at 131 W. Third St. has been a traditional gathering of Dayton businessmen, judges and attorneys. It was incorporated in 1890.

While women can stop by for lunch, formal membership has been only open to men.

Copies of two letters were shared with the Dayton Daily News, one sent to club members asking to vote on whether to let women be members and one sent to members sharing the results of the survey. The first letter was sent July 31 and the second letter was sent Aug. 30.

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The second letter said out of the 86 people who answered the survey, 62 said women should be allowed. Two of those said they would quit if women were not allowed.

There were 24 that said no to allowing women, and eight of those survey takers said they would quit if it were so. Five said they would maybe quit if women were allowed.

“As you can see, there is a majority of that would be OK with women becoming members and we don’t risk losing them as a member. What’s concerning is 28 percent that said no to allowing women to becoming members,” O’Donnell wrote.

The Dayton Woman’s Club, open since 1916 in downtown at 225 N. Ludlow St., allows men to join as honorary members, according to Bill Hedley, who volunteers at the club several days a week. Hedley said the club, has has around 100 members.

In light of the results, O’Donnell wrote the board members want more feedback from members.

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