WNBR in Northern Hemisphere is coming!

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, including my current hometown NYC, the ride will be held on Saturday the 13th. You can see the list of participating cities here, though it’s not entirely updated – look up if you have a local World Naked Bike Ride near you!

You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC 2013 and 2012, Boston WNBR 2014, as well as from Madrid in 2009Philly Naked Bike Ride was in is the biggest one I’ve participated so far. As long, as NYPD doesn’t disturb us like last year, we should have a fun ride all along – come and join WNBR NYC if you’re around:
Bodies assembly at 4:00pm, ride departs by 5:00 pm sharp. Arrive early for body painting, trainings, teach-ins, and socializing! Volunteers plan on coming early!
Grand Ferry Park; final route will be communicated to riders who show up only. More details on WNBR NYC wiki page!

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oil-Independence Night in Boston (WNBR)

Last Saturday, Boston had its own edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, when more than 200 people took over its streets.

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It’s my 4th city where I’ve done WNBR, but it’s the first one where it takes place at night.

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I won’t stop repeating that WNBR is probably the most cheerful and peaceful demonstration against oil-dependency, promoting human-powered modes of transportation as a healthy alternative. It serves as a fun bike tour too, and I think I’m going to make it a tradition to visit new cities for WNBR.

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I’m not sure that nigh is the best time of the day for WNBR, as we want to have a bigger impact on public, and Boston is not the city that never sleeps. However, we passed through both sleeping and bustling neighborhoods, with overwhelming support from the street crowd, especially on the streets with bars 🙂

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We had a couple of short breaks to catch the breath in parks,

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just to fill up the streets again with new power.

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Altogether we were riding for more than 2 hours through Boston downtown and Cambridge in our altogethers!

Given the nightly atmosphere, it was nice to have some bright lights, which a friend of mine gave me as a present after I got hit by car; they are a bit too crazy to use them on a daily (or rather nightly) basis, but they served just fine for WNBR in NYC and in then Boston, and thanks to them I got on boston.com site – check out the photo gallery with yours truly.

WNBR NYC and Free Form Festival: free, arrested and then freer than ever!

Last Friday, the weather in New York city wasn’t the most cooperative for the World Naked Bike Ride, and yet a couple of dozens of hardiest cyclists showed up at the Grand Ferry Park. We welcomed the thunderstorm by dancing naked in the downpour, and as the rain was calming down, we took off to the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Despite the weather, there were still people on the streets, and we got cheered by pedestrians, other cyclists and car drivers alike! We got some friendly smiles and hand waives even from police. When passers by asked us why we were naked, I replied that skin was waterproof 😉

By the time we got to Washington Square Park, it stopped raining altogether.

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But some of us seemed to miss water already 🙂

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I wish New York accepted nudity, at least in parks, and as these rides show, general public doesn’t seem to be opposed to it, once confronted to a cheerful naked crowd.

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The World Naked Bike Ride aims to promote safe environments for cyclists and public in general, and who would argue that if you can feel safe in your city while being naked, it must be as safe as it gets?

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Then we headed out to the Hudson Greenway and took some more pictures with iconic views.

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As to the banner, I personally don’t think NYC should be car-free altogether, but it would definitely become a better city, if half of the drivers switched to bicycles 🙂

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Unfortunately, our ride after that didn’t go as peaceful and proved that it wasn’t the weather we should have been worried about:

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All of a sudden, we were overtaken  by an undercover police car (disguised as a yellow cab!) and then even more police came and blocked the street. We can only guess why, but they also arrested two of the participants!

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It was pleasing to get support from bystanders. One of them shouted that he thought he happened to be in Iran. However, this didn’t stop police, and our two arrestees were detained till next evening! Your can read more at the blog of one of the organizers of New York’s WNBR, Ben, as well as an article from Gothamist.

I was very happy about how our ride went last year, and there is no reason why it should have ended so bitter this year. I’m especially puzzled why this happens in seemingly liberal New York. I bet many spectators of our ride on Friday had that “only in New York” moment, but what they probably didn’t realize was that in many cities of the world and US, the World Naked Bike Ride actually attracts many more riders, and what happens only in New York perhaps is that participants of such rides get arrested. Hopefully, it’ll be better next year. And there’re still some more rides this year too, including WNBR Boston next Saturday, June 28 (read this announcement about at Boston Magazine).

 

Last weekend, I went to Free Form Festival at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, PA,  and it was a nice and necessary breath of freedom after I witnessed the arrest at WNBR.

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This festival celebrates anything positive and artsy, anything that brings people together and raises the spirit, and social nudity is a part of it.

I started off with a naked lunch, which by coincidence seemed to be all Tuscan style – featuring Tuscan salami, Tuscan bean salad, and Tuscan salami – despite I bought those at different places without thinking about it :p

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Free Form Festival follows the format of Burning Man, just at a smaller scale and with grass instead of dust.

Free Form Festival 2014 0003 Pennsylvania, USA

I didn’t take many photos, as it was more about having fun and interacting with people.

Free Form Festival 2014 0001 Pennsylvania, USA

Even though nudity is not common there, it’s definitely welcome. As you can see at this photo from a contact workshop, where we pretended to be a school of fish, nobody had a problem with following a naked dude.

Free Form Festival 2014 0002 Pennsylvania, USA

At night, everybody gathered for the effigy burn, and a few people, including me, were dancing naked around. One of the fire spinners got naked too, and had a solo performance on the side. Also, a guy whose dance style was more like Tai Chi got naked too and taught me a couple of principal Tai Chi moves. Then he brought me to a creek with cold water behind the amphitheater. And that was my experience of duality – this year’s theme of Free Form Festival – fire and water, heat and cold, light and darkness…

Hopefully, events like the World Naked Bike Ride and Free Form Festival will make world a more open, accepting and freer place, so that you can feel safe even naked!

some upcoming events this month

WNBR NYC 2014

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, the ride will be held on Saturday, 14 June, but in New York City, it’s on Friday the 13th. This will be a hell of a fun ride: an awesome way to finish off the work week, to say the least! You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC last year and 2012, as well as from Madrid in 2009; Philly Naked Bike Ride is in August, and with 3500 participants last year is the biggest one I’ve participated. Although I don’t know the reasons why WNBR is held on a different day here in New York than in most the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, I’m glad that it’s on Friday, because it lets me go for the weekend to yet another amazing event.

Free Form Festival brings together the vast East-Coast creative arts community from 12-16 June at at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, Pennsylvania. With its aim to “increase diversity in our local artistic landscape”, it will surely be interesting and fun, and by the way, it is an officially clothing-optional event too! Tickets are still on sale and may be purchased by clicking here. Who else is going?

I’m also looking forward to ‘Bouncing Buns7k Trail Race in Pennsylvania for American Cancer Society on the 21st of June. 7km is the longest distance that I’ve seen for a naked or clothing-optional race – it’s good to be challenged, moreover for a good cause. Well, in 2012, I passed the challenge pretty well, coming in third! I ran a bit faster last year, but with fiercer competition, I had only 7th result. This year, I cannot hope to run faster, as I’m still not 100% recovered after my ankle injury, but will I have less fun? Of course not! With 150 or so naturist folks of all shapes and ages, everybody can feel comfortable in their own skin. However, I’m going with a couple of fellows again, and it doesn’t hurt to have some healthy competition, just like with the friends in ‘Team America’ that I got to know last year. The event is organized by Pretzel City Sports and you can register for the race at their website: $25 before June 9, $32 after. Part of your registration fee will support American Cancer Society, and afterwards you get an opportunity to hang out at Sunny Rest naturist resort, where the trail race will take place. It’s a great opportunity to run just the way you like. The event is clothing-optional, and we’ll certainly opt for the style of the [authentic] Olympic runners 😉 Also, if you have any doubts about running naked, have a look at my brief overview that links running and our naturally naked (furless) body from an evolutionary perspective – I hope it’ll make sense to you. Besides participating in the race, we also plan to do some yoga at Sunny Rest, as well as play badminton and volleyball.

Last but not least, as the beach season has commenced, it’s worth mentioning that there is a Groupon sale for the Seastreak ferry from Manhattan to Sandy Hook beach: $25 instead of regular $45. Unfortunately, unlike in previous years, there is no $30 coupon on Seastreak’s website, and you can only get one groupon ticket…

Petition to designate federal land for clothing-optional recreation

There is a petition to designate portions of public lands under management of the federal government for clothing-optional recreational use, and it’s gone viral on nudist networks in the US. Surprisingly, it doesn’t come from the Naturist Action Committee or any other naturist organization, but it was backed by American Association for Nude Recreation a few days ago. It is well written and you can get more information on the explanatory website, but I’m pretty sure if you read this blog you don’t need to think twice about it, so go ahead and sign the petition to the White House!

I’ve already posted about some areas in New York that I think could easily accommodate both people who like to be naked outdoors and those who prefer to remain clothed, just make it legal and give people choice! My first choice would be Fort Tilden park and beach, and North 40 Natural Area in Jamaica Bay would be great too! Too bad Central Park is not federal land, or is a lawn for naked sunbathing or frisbee too much to ask? Meanwhile in San Francisco, the fight for legalizing urban nudity seems to gain some success. Naturist activists in the Fog City got so much public attention and support that police decided not to interfere with a naked wedding ceremony in front of the City Hall!

Success of this event, however, doesn’t mean that nudity ban is revoked, so if you’re in the Bay Area, join them for Nudity Ban Protest next Sunday, February 2! Hopefully, soon nobody will get arrested for doing yoga naked in San Francisco 😉

NUDITY BAN PROTEST in San Francisco this Sunday

While in my last post I suggested to try to make North 40 Natural Area a naturist-friendly park of New York City, there is a group of naturist activists that is trying to bring body freedom to the city where public nudity was legal until February, San Francisco. It is outrageous that laws banning nudity are being passed in the 21st century, and in San Francisco, out of all places. I know how these silly laws are enforced on my own experience after getting a fine for doing yoga naked in a park in San Francisco. Even if for some reason you think it is not acceptable (unnatural???) not to wear clothes in public, just look at the video from this group’s latest protest and think if this ban doesn’t violate freedom of speech, so cherished in the USA.

Luckily, there are such people who don’t give up, and I wish they had more support from naturist community, as well as anyone who wants to keep our society as free and accepting as possible. You can read more at their website, as well as donate them @ www.MyNakedTruth.tv

Here is also information about their upcoming demonstrations:

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15 @ 12 NOON – JANE WARNER PLAZA – NUDITY BAN PROTEST

Please, join us for another protest against the nudity ban at the Jane Warner Plaza. An award winning Norwegian documentary film maker Jan Dalchow will be filming the protest for his documentary film “The Naked Dream”. His crew will be flying in from Norway to document the body freedom movement of San Francisco. We would love to see you there. Please come and be part of the documentary!

In case of rain the protest will be held at the Sex and Culture Center at 1349 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19 @ 12 NOON – SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL – NAKED WEDDING – GYPSY TAUB AND JAYMZ SMITH will get married naked in front of the City Hall. We will also have a protest/march/parade after the ceremony.

Philly Naked Bike Ride bigger than ever?

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.

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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.

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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),

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we went on to make new friends and share glitter.

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Green, for the political statement.

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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.

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The organisers and volunteers of PNBR were dismantling the stands and cleaning the park, a good tone for environmental demonstration.

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Some participants had to do last minute fixes…

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So the delay time was not wasted,

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and the energy was high when the ride finally started.

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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.

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That’s what you call a critical mass! In the tunnel, it was even more evident.

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Below is an arial shot.

PNBR air view

By the way, although the vast majority of participants rode typical bicycles, you could see a wide spectrum of  engine-free modes of transportation.

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Of course, there was a tandem bicycle – perfect for a well coordinated couple, as it provides better power-to-weight ratio.

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And this guy on the tall bike certainly had the best view.

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Those two ladies had a leisurely ride without having to pedal at all, thanks to a friend who didn’t mind being their rickshaw.

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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.

stepper bike at PNBR 2013

So as this guy on a stepper bike (not sure which is more difficult).

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But why limit yourself with bicycles? Roller skates

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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:

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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;

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pink-red guy and his dog;

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the tall bike guy again (he quite literally stood out in the crowd);

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Deadmau5 (or rather his fan, judging by the absence of the tattoos);

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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…

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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!

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And definitely there was an impact on other citizens of the city.

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Most importantly, car drivers seemed to be happy with the ride, even though we took over the streets for a while.

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Some cheerers had even prepared quite affirming posters for us.

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And even entire families went out of their houses to cheer to us!

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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,

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so I enjoyed the views of the city on the way,

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especially when we rode between Philadelphia Museum of Art

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and Logan Square and the City Hall;

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riding through some narrower streets was fun too.

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The ride ended at a parking lot near Piazza.

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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.

World Naked Bike Ride + New York 2013 = fun and success!

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Last Saturday, many cities throughout Northern Hemisphere have seen one of the merriest events imaginable which also represents a peaceful demonstration for environmental consciousness and body acceptance – World Naked Bike Ride. I think it wouldn’t be a true world event if New York weren’t a part of it; finally, New York City is catching up on the naked part too! Unlike last year, this time we were escorted by police, but unlike 2 years ago, they were rather cooperative and did not bother for fully naked participants.

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Needless to say, naked, semi-naked and bizarrely-dressed riders attracted a lot of attention. Our naked bodies meant to emphasise that we are unprotected against the traffic and pollution…

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and if someone didn’t get the message, they also served a great canvas for slogans.

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‘More ass, less gas’ was probably our most popular chant too.

World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

Another popular chant was ‘Whose streets? – Our Streets’, and it indeed felt that throughout most of the route, which went through Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan, the streets were ours.

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If only more people used bikes, how much cleaner and quieter it would be! Is it not possible to imagine New York City streets like that –

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– most people going by bikes and just a few by cars (typically for NYC, cabs). And by the way, nobody seemed to be shocked by nudity – quite on contrary, we were cheered all the time. Even if people were puzzled what it was all about, I’m pretty sure many would check online and get the idea.

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As I mentioned, it was quite comforting that police was cooperating and friendly (except for one brief incident). I was actually running late for the ride and, accompanied by a fellow [male] rider in a kind of ballerina skirt, which immediately revealed where we were heading to, we were given directions by policemen several times. During the ride, they only seemed to care that we would follow traffic rules.

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But I think we were actually pretty good, law-abiding riders, except that we wouldn’t all fit on the bike lane.

For some reason, police was particularly concerned that we’d ride strictly on the right side of the Hudson River Greenway, so we stretched out quite a lot there.

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I think the Hudson River Greenway is one of the best urban projects, and it is definitely my favourite way to go Up-/Downtown Manhattan on the west side, and is probably the most pleasant bike path in the whole city.

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That’s where we could gain some speed and ride freely without having to watch out for cars.

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Williamsburg Bridge is probably the most bike-friendly of all big bridges, and it was so nice to ride it in the buff, feeling the breeze all over body.

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Can’t we get some more of such dedicated bike paths? Even the East River Greenway is not complete. I guess we’ll have to continue our naked bike rides and chanting ‘More ass, less gas’ in the years to come 🙂

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PS Thanks to Time’s Up for organising the WNBR in New York City. Here is the video produced by Barbara from 2013 ride:

World Naked Bike Ride, NYC edition 2013, is on Saturday, 8 June!

World Naked Bike Ride is coming to New York City again, on Saturday, the 8th of June, together with many other cities around northern hemisphere. I’ll repeat again, that it is a worldwide demonstration promoting cycling as an urban mode of transportation, as well as body acceptance. Riding naked is symbolic and effective way to draw attention to vulnerability of people against the traffic and pollution, and it also shows that being nude is not lewd. Please refer to my previous post why I think we really need this demonstration to be seen and heard in New York City particularly.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an environmental activist or are not sure about public nudity, consider another great aspect of WNBR – fun! I’ve participated in this event in Madrid and New York, as well as at Burning Man last year, and it’s always great fun!

Refer to the official wiki-page of WNBR-NYC and Facebook page for details.

Can New York make it as big as London? or at least Madrid?

World Naked Bike Ride – London – Big Ben

WNBR – London – Piccadilly Circus

Something is missing here!

Times Square – no WNBR?

World Naked Bike Ride NYC 2012 – [modest] success!

So, two weeks ago it happened after all! I was really worried about how the NYC edition of the World Naked Bike Ride would go, as last year, more-than-necessary police presence scared the participants, so no one even dared to get naked. This year was quite an improvement in this respect, even though only several tens of people of showed up. For whatever reason, there was no intervention whatsoever, and the ride went totally smooth.

It started with some speeches from the organizers with the iconic Manhattan skyline on the background.

I couldn’t believe it, but right after we took off, one guy disrobed totally. Obviously, I couldn’t help doing the same. He turned out to be from Portland, where WNBR attracts thousands and most of participants are naked, so he rightfully pointed out that was actually why it was called ‘naked bike ride’.

Well, yeah, maybe in Portland and most of the Western world, but I had to explain that NYC was somewhat difficult. But there I was, riding naked through the streets of New York.

Soon, the leader joined the naked team,

and even more people followed.

After Williamsburg, we headed to East Village,

Chinatown,

and Lower East Side. We weren’t as many as we’d like to, but we still filled the road for about half of the block. And we definitely attracted a lot of attention from the crowd!

When we stopped at the crossings,

or even while riding, we were asked by pedestrians and drivers alike what it was all about. I tried to explain in two words, but hopefully many did their search online afterwards so that awareness about cycling in the city would spread.

One of the important points was stopping by BP gas station, still symbolic as one of the major pollutants after the spill in Mexican Gulf.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go through main sights of New York City, like most of the naked rides do in other cities, but we did encounter some sightseeing buses, and I bet it the highlight of their tour.

Well, I hope next year we’ll cover more areas of Manhattan – to get more people involved, interested, alerted – but also for the fun of it. Isn’t it just awesome to have a group bike tour through NYC, and on tope of it in the buff?

Before heading out to the after party, we had one last naked stop in the park. I wish we could have a party in the park like it was in Madrid, but I feel that would be too risky in NYC.

PS thanks to the reporter from Village Voice for nice coverage (and yes, he was fully covered). I’ve used some of his photos.