Philly Naked Bike Ride is Philadelphia’s own edition of the World Naked Bike Ride; as their website states, “PNBR is about: Riding together to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy.” From my first experience of the World Naked Bike Ride in Madrid in 2009, I also learnt that it is the best way to have a bike tour through the city – with hundreds of fun people as a company and central streets being cleared of cars. So I thought it’d appropriate to visit the first historic capital of the United States on such an occasion. In most cities in Northern Hemisphere, World Naked Bike Ride takes place on the second weekend of June, but Philadelphia hosts one in August, so I wouldn’t have to skip the ride in NYC this year in order to go to Philly. Although I was happy with how New York’s naked bike ride went this year, I have to admit it is dwarfed by the ride in Philly with its 3000+ participants.
As my friend from Philadelphia who gave me a lift to the city wanted to volunteer before the ride, we arrived a couple of hours before the official start. There were numerous signs and volunteers on the bike lanes that directed bikers towards the starting point.
The lawn next to Penn Treaty Park was already filling up with people, and as soon as the first one got naked many others followed the trend; body painters were getting busy too.
Then more friends from NYC arrived, and after we covered ourselves with enough glitter (with the assumption that there is no such thing as too much glitter),
we went on to make new friends and share glitter.
Green, for the political statement.
Meanwhile, the lawn got really packed and the bikers were lining up in preparation for the ride. This was another opportunity to make new friends, like this fellow in romper suit.
The organisers and volunteers of PNBR were dismantling the stands and cleaning the park, a good tone for environmental demonstration.
Some participants had to do last minute fixes…
So the delay time was not wasted,
and the energy was high when the ride finally started.
The work of volunteers continued in regulating the traffic and directing the ride, and they did a great job, all went smooth. This is quite impressive given the mere number of cyclists. We filled up the street as far as you could see in both directions.
That’s what you call a critical mass! In the tunnel, it was even more evident.
Below is an arial shot.
By the way, although the vast majority of participants rode typical bicycles, you could see a wide spectrum of engine-free modes of transportation.
Of course, there was a tandem bicycle – perfect for a well coordinated couple, as it provides better power-to-weight ratio.
And this guy on the tall bike certainly had the best view.
Those two ladies had a leisurely ride without having to pedal at all, thanks to a friend who didn’t mind being their rickshaw.
There were some BMX bikers too, but unfortunately there was not much chance for them to show their skills, but I’m sure it was a pretty intense exercise anyways, as most of the time during our 2-hour ride they had to pedal standing.
So as this guy on a stepper bike (not sure which is more difficult).
But why limit yourself with bicycles? Roller skates
and skateboards were a popular choice too and proved to be good alternative for commuting in Philly.
But I saw a couple of people who went even further: they ran the whole route. One of them, even barefoot. Why not, human body is capable of amazing physical endurance.
I myself was ‘just another’ cyclist on the ride, except that I was busy taking a lot of pictures for this report (most of the photos here are by me, but some are from the PNBR flickr pool).
And there were a lot of notable characters worth mentioning:
The Mexican wrestler;
golden lady (I know how it feels to be covered in gold ;-) )
and the winged lady;
the romper suit guy again;
the naked chef;
pink-red guy and his dog;
the tall bike guy again (he quite literally stood out in the crowd);
Deadmau5 (or rather his fan, judging by the absence of the tattoos);
and this fellow with the first aid kit was conveniently easy to spot too (not that anyone ended up needing it, as far as I know)… Oh wait, I think he just missed this dude who seemed to have got himself seriously wounded before the ride even started…
Don’t worry, he was actually just promoting the ‘Naked and Scared Challenge’ at Shocktoberfest, “Pennsylvania’s Premier Haunted Scream Park.”
By the way, the success of Philly Naked Bike Ride has drawn an even bigger company to promote itself by distributing free drinks to energise the participants. Nothing wrong with that!
And definitely there was an impact on other citizens of the city.
Most importantly, car drivers seemed to be happy with the ride, even though we took over the streets for a while.
Some cheerers had even prepared quite affirming posters for us.
And even entire families went out of their houses to cheer to us!
I’m pretty sure those tourists on the bus got some good memories; and perhaps next time, they will take a bike tour instead. Speaking of which – as I mentioned, it was my first visit to Philadelphia,
so I enjoyed the views of the city on the way,
especially when we rode between Philadelphia Museum of Art
and Logan Square and the City Hall;
riding through some narrower streets was fun too.
The ride ended at a parking lot near Piazza.
Here is the view from above.
Unfortunately, unlike in previous year the after-party was no longer clothing-optional, as the condominiums surrounding Piazza pressured its owner to make participants of the Philly Naked Bike Ride to be no longer naked around there. The party at PYT bar was still fun, but there was a rumour that Piazza owner also has a swimming pool, which would be a great alternative for the after-party next year. That would be great, but regardless of that, Philly Naked Bike Ride has established itself as a massive event with a lot of fun and big impact.