May 28, 2013

World Naked Bike Ride!

by: Taz Loomans

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The World Naked Bike Ride in Portland is just a few short weeks away, taking place on Saturday, June 8th. Yes, people will be riding naked on their bikes, but for a good cause. The worldwide bike ride highlights “the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport” and is meant to bring people together in support and celebration of cycling.

A little bit of background:

The first World Naked Bike ride took place in 2004, but before that, a lot of different organizations put on smaller naked bike rides around the world. In Germany, naked bike rides were regularly organized by the Freie Korper Kulfur organization. In Seattle, naked bike rides were organized by the Fremont Riders. In Spain, rides were organized by the Ciclonudista. And in Canada, naked rides were regularly organized by Artists Against War.

In 2003, Conrad Schmidt conceived of the World Naked Bike Ride to consolidate the multiple naked bike rides around the world in order to have a stronger message and a bigger impact. The first World Naked Bike Ride event in 2004 was a collaboration between the World Naked Bike Ride organization, which put on a ride on June 12, and Manifestacion Ciclonudista in Spain, which put on a ride on June 19. Subsequently that year, there were World Naked Bike Ride events in 28 cities, 10 countries and 4 continents. By 2010, World Naked Bike Ride had expanded to 74 cities in 17 countries.

What does riding naked have to do with bike advocacy?

The idea of being naked has some metaphorical similarities to the idea of cycling. Here’s what I mean:

  1. It’s vulnerable. Just like being naked makes people physically and socially vulnerable, riding your bike on city streets is a vulnerable experience too.
  2. It’s natural. There’s nothing more natural than your birthday suit. And biking is natural in that it human powered, emits no toxic emissions, and uses no harmful chemicals that are extracted in a harmful way to run.
  3. It’s back to basics. Getting naked is about shedding external layers, and bicycling is about shedding the need to own a personal car as a way to get around.
  4. It’s simple. Stripping down to nothing puts us in touch with the simple beauty of the human body. And biking is a simple expression of movement using a simple contraption comprised of a seat, two wheels and two pedals.
  5. It connects people to one another. There is no faster way to get connected with someone than seeing them naked. Bicycling is also a great way to connect with others, because it allows people to see each other, without having anything in between them.

Too shy to ride naked? Don’t worry, the dress code is “As Bare as You Dare”. You decide what you’re comfortable with. While you’re not required to go buck naked, bodypainting, bike decorating and creative expression are all “strongly encouraged” say the organizers.

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