The World Naked Bike Ride took to the roads, despite fears over local nudity laws
The World Naked Bike Ride took to the roads, despite fears over local nudity laws

Cyclists around the world threw off their clothes and their inhibitions on Saturday 9 March, to take part in the World Naked Bike Ride, a peaceful protest to expose the vulnerability of cyclists, humanity and nature in the face of cars, consumerism and non-renewable energy.

According to the Digital Journal, the fourth annual Southern Hemisphere World Naked Bike Ride took to the roads in Australia, where cyclists assembled in Centennial Park, Sydney. Cars stuck in traffic tooted their horns and members of the public cheered on the naked cyclists.

Large numbers of fans heading for the Future Music Festival were surprised to see naked and scantily clad cyclists passing by.

A small number of people had turned up at the start to watch, but there was little to see as all the cyclists taking part went into the bushes to remove their clothes before they headed off across Centennial Park towards the city centre.

No police were called to the protest, although a caller on an Australian radio show raised concerns about the appropriateness of children being exposed to dozens of naked people in public. 

Caller 'Dave' spoke to a radio DJ, and posted video footage on 3AW Online with dashboard camera vision of nude cyclists riding along the Esplanade in St Kilda. The film also showed a family with a young girl patiently waiting for the nudists to pass.

"I don't mind the nudes, I'm pretty open-minded, but what disturbed me is the little girl was subject to it all," Dave said.

"And first we saw this old guy on roller blades completely nude. It was a bit jarring."

At the Brisbane leg of the World Nude Bike Ride on Saturday, it was "Queensland's conservatism" that held back all five of its participants from going totally naked.

Factory worker Ian Haywood said that while participants in other cities such as London and Melbourne were able to go completely starkers, those in Queensland were inhibited by local indecency laws.

"Queenslanders are very conservative. We have to be a lot more careful here than we would in other states or in other countries around the world," he told the Brisbane Times.

 "If we rode fully nude we'd have the cops stopping us. We don't feel embarrassed about it, but other people obviously do."

The riders were accompanied by police officers on bicycles when they left their starting point at the Goodwill Bridge.

The annual bike ride was a "peaceful rally" which celebrates naturism, biketivism and also concern about the natural environment, organiser Dario Western said.

"It's all about promoting nature and being natural. Biketivism is a positive and natural approach to cycling and being environmentally aware," he said.

"This is something that people really care about - and with the increased awareness people now have for climate change, we're finding more and more young people interested."

A naked bike ride also took place in San Francisco, although there were concerns over the legality of public nudity in the American city.

"Liberal San Francisco is not so liberal anymore with the passage of an anti-nudity ordinance that went into effect on 1 February 2013. This will be a test to see how far we can push the limits," warned the WNBR website.

"If you go naked, it helps to have a protest message to go with the nudity in the form of body painted slogans or signs. Be prepared to cover up. So far, the authorities have been nice in giving people an opportunity to cover up before giving out citations. Bare breasts are okay.

"To be legal, you just need to barely cover your genitals and rectum. Going naked outside the main group will definitely get you cited. There's more safety in numbers."

The World Naked Bike Ride spelt out its mission statement on Facebook : "We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians plus all the negative effects of oil, cars, war, consumerism, non-renewable energy as well as promoting positive body image."

The website described the event as: "A fun free activity with a serious message, promoting visibility on the roads, using nudity to highlight the need to look for cyclists on the road.

"It is the grooviest, funniest, most hippie greenie event. Riding in the WNBR will give you a natural high and a feeling of joy, liberation and freedom that will amaze you. The memory of it will cheer you for years to come."