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Biking Naked

— I was feeling around for web stories about transportation when I happened upon a story of the naked bike ride in my former hometown of Minneapolis. Nudity catches the eye and the subject caught my attention.

Cyclists in Minneapolis raised consciousness by shedding their clothes. July 4, 2011.
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Above: Cyclists in Minneapolis raised consciousness by shedding their clothes. July 4, 2011.

It wasn’t long before I remembered that naked bike rides are not so exotic. San Diego had its own event just about a month ago. On June 11th, the local naked bike ride wound through Bankers Hill and Hillcrest. At one point, riders met up and joined forces with Slutwalk. Surely, you remember Slutwalk.

Mind you, calling this a naked bike ride is an exaggeration. The girls wear bikinis, bras and panties. The guys wear underwear or shorts with no shirts. Last year there was a legal tiff in San Diego over whether riders would be subject to the city’s anti-nudity law. Authorities and “naked” bikers came to an out-of-court compromise.

The guy who wrote about the Minneapolis ride reflected on how cycling in the U.S. has developed a young rebel attitude. People ride naked. Critical mass riders take over the streets and piss off motorists.

He wondered when cycling will just become a normal activity that boring middle-aged people do on a regular basis for practical reasons… such as getting to work and running errands. I wonder that myself.

American car culture is very resilient. The speed and range of car transportation is something we’re expected to possess. Our bosses expect it. The schools that teach our kids and sponsor their activities expect it. Swimming against that tide is not easy.

The fun and hipness of cycling may also be a powerful force. But biking needs to become less novel, not to mention safer.

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