Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dos and Don'ts of Naked Bike Rides

The thought of riding a bike buck naked does not appeal to everyone, yet the global popularity of naked bike rides continues to grow. Last weekend in Portland, OR, for example, three naked bike rides competed for attention as part of the annual Pedalpalooza bike extravaganza of events; in San Francisco, a naked ride drew 'droves' of undressed cyclists.

Whether you are cold, lukewarm, or hot with shame at the thought of cycling with a big bunch of similarly naked cyclists, we shouldn't forget why naked bike rides began. Cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable road users, not more likely to be involved in a collision (vehicle on vehicle 'accidents' are more numerous) yet at risk for serious injury if hit by a vehicle. And if you are a proponent of low-CO2 living, cleaner air, or a car-light life, sooner or later you'll likely want to bike, and maybe, just maybe, you'll want to ride with a naked tribe to protest automobile hegemony. So here are some tips, courtesy of the non-profit organization Shift2Bikes, for how to be a naked cyclist.

Pump it up.

This is one ride during which you don't want to have a mechanical breakdown, so do a maintenance check, pump up your tires, check your brake pads and your brakes.

Get prepped.

Many going on naked bike rides get together pre-ride. Some people party, while others construct modesty fig leaves, put on body paint or costumes and other decorative items, or generally apply gentle peer pressure to encourage the more hesitant of the bunch.

Bare as you dare.

While there is that peer pressure on naked bike rides, the crowd is supportive of whatever level of nakedness you are comfortable with. Totally nudity is not required, and not necessary to enjoy these rides. P.S. It is not illegal to be naked in Portland or San Francisco, the two recent riding cities mentioned. Different rules apply in different U.S. states, however, and around the world. Generally naked bike riders are not harassed.

Smile and wave.

There can be creepy people taking pictures, there may be police, there might be slowdowns for rubber-neckers. Just smile and wave through it all, and have your clothes with you in case the ride ends not where it began. Ride safe, don't ride with open containers, and be courteous. Enjoy the tribe, and the feeling of freedom and safety in numbers.

P.S. Some places still can't enjoy naked bike rides - they have been banned in China after last year's attempt landed its organizer at a police station.

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