Posted: Wed, May 15, 2013 | By: Nudism
by Hank Pellissier
World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike riding event to “deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world.”
Conceived in 2003 by Conrad Schmidt, it was rapidly adopted by activist groups and individuals around the world. The 2004 WNBR occurred in 28 cities on four continents. By 2010, there were rides in 74 cities, in 17 countries.
WNBR promotes bicycle transportation, renewable energy, recreation, walkable communities, sustainable solutions, a car-free lifestyle, and an improved feeling of freedom. The events have encountered only a few legal problems, because most laws on nudity hinge on the concept of indecent exposure, and participants argue that there’s nothing indecent about the naked human body.
To find out more about the World Naked Bike Ride, I interviewed John “Compost” Cossham. He’s a WNBR coordinating team member in the city of York, in the United Kingdom.
Hank: What day is the event and what time and what is the route?
John: Friday 21st June 2013, leaving at 6pm, check the fb ‘event’ and group for the map of the route through York.
How many years have you been doing this event?
This is our 8th York WNBR
What is the theme of the event?
Our reasons for doing this ride are as a protest about oil dependency and car culture, a celebration of bikes and the bodies that power them. We ride naked to show how vulnerable we are on today’s car-infested roads. We ride naked because no-one would be remotely interested in something called a World Fancy Dress Bike Ride, so we use the word ‘naked’ to attract attention to our messages.
How many World Naked bike riding events are there, in how many different cities?
Start counting THESE links.
How many bike riders will you get?
Our best turnout was about 90. Last year I think we had about 80. So I’m expecting 70 and therefore should be pleased (as more people have registered on the fb event than previous years) but it really depends on the weather!
What is the reaction of the people that see you?
Laughter, applause, whistles, screams, taking photos, car horns hooting, people cheering and saying ‘well done’ and ‘nice one’ and such like. I’ve seen one probably Muslim family turn their backs on us (in Manchester) and ignore us til we passed, and I’ve heard one shout of ‘get your clothes on’ in York. The overwhelming response is joyously positive.
What do you regard as the most essential environmental problem in the world and will bike-riding solve that problem?
Climate change caused by fossil carbon emissions. Bikes are zero carbon to ride, are health-giving and quick through congested cities with sad car drivers stuck in traffic jams.
Are the people in your bike ride - Bike riders, environmentalists, Nudists, or a combination of all the above?
Yes, we’re all cyclists, even though some of the naturists aren’t always very experienced! There are lots of us who are passionate about creating a better world through our own choices, in this case, sustainable transport.
How did you personally get involved in this?
I’ve been riding a bicycle since 1971. When I was 14 I undertook a 1,100 mile round trip over several weeks around the UK, visiting relatives, friends and Youth Hostels. The following summer I did the same distance but a different route around England and Wales. I have never had a car. I absolutely love my bike, and ride it about 360 days a year. I’m a veteran environmentalist with a history of non violent direct action and a love of festivals and fun, and I’m an occasional naturist. So I love the WNBR and have been on all the York rides, and helped with publicity initially, then worked with the main organiser Tony, and this year, I’ve become the lead organiser, although it is a team effort and I’m very grateful for Tony’s continued support.
Is the Naked Bike Ride growing internationally in popularity?
Yes, as it becomes more evident that the motor car is a symbol of much that is wrong with society, and anthropogenic climate change becomes more accepted as a fact and the biggest problem that humankind has ever had to find a solution to.
Is your event associated with a college?
No, but we have riders from the University of York and St John’s University.
What are your personal feelings about the event? Is it successful at transmitting its message? Do donations increase every year to worthy organizations after the event?
This is not about raising money, although last year, for the first time, we held a raffle to raise money for incidental costs such as printing flyers. This year, one rider is asking for sponsorship to raise money for testicular cancer research (see http://www.justgiving.com/mickle ). I think WNBRs are a good way of getting our message about sustainability, transport choices and safety on the roads into the mainstream media. It’s also a lot of fun!
Do you encounter hostility from church groups or parent groups due to the nudity?
There are always a few loud conservative voices who are opposed to our right to do this, and they write to the newspaper, Council and Police. Some people mistakenly think children should be, err ‘protected’ from nudity… but in my experience, it’s the under 16s who laugh loudest at us! Also, this attitude shows that some people are confusing nudity with sexual behaviour. Nudity is not sexual! The confusion arises because when we are being sexual, we may be naked, but that doesn’t mean that when we’re naked, we’re being sexual. However, being naked in public is not illegal, and nor does it harm anyone. If someone doesn’t want to see naked, bodypainted or costumed cyclists, just look in he other direction. We only take a minute to cycle past, and we only do it once a year. It’s really no big deal.
Can you refer me to links that explain the global movement of this? is there a centralized headquarters somewhere that plans these, or is it just done locally by anyone who wants to?
Google is your friend. There is no central HQ, although there are several people in the UK who help co-ordinate dates and do things like negotiate insurance through Bike Week, for instance, or produce flags to help decorate our bikes. Anyone can start a local WNBR, and some of us will help with advice and ideas.
Is you event preceded by discussions of environmental activities, anything like that? Is there a party afterwards? Any associated activities?
Sometimes people go to the pub afterwards… but our attempts a few years back to have a film night a few weeks beforehand weren’t very successful, and one year the YWNBR had a stall at a local festival, but really, the focus is on the ride… this is what people want to do.
thanks immensely for your help!