Thousands of naked bicyclists stage festive Portland protest ride

Sun Jun 8, 2014 2:55pm EDT
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By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND Oregon (Reuters) - Thousands of bicyclists, many of them stark naked, poured into the streets of Portland, Oregon on Saturday night for the 11th annual World Naked Bike Ride, a protest that promotes bike riding as an alternative to driving cars.

Nude cyclists with lights flashing in their tire spokes rang bells as they barreled down avenues lined with cheering spectators, while a naked, apparently pregnant woman rode in a bike trailer.

"This is a party, but it's also a protest," said Carl Larson, a ride spokesman. "It is about oil dependence, cycling vulnerability and body" image.

Cyclists showed up in Normandale Park an hour before the ride, shedding garments according to the ride theme "as bare as you dare".

The rides are held in more than 75 U.S. cities and in more than 20 other countries, but Portland's is believed to be the largest, with more than 8,000 participants last year.

But unlike events in other cities, the Portland ride works with local police, being considered as a protest. Officers direct traffic during what is generally a trouble-free event.

"We've had a few complaints from neighbors but overall not many issues of concern," said police spokesman Sgt. Peter Simpson before the ride, adding "for residents who don't want to see it, the best advice is to just not go outside."

Jennifer Young, 40, who was at the ride with her 16-year-old son and was painted blue head to toe with fairy wings on her back, saw the goal as showing cyclists' vulnerability, saying "I think it's a little more evident when we're naked."   Continued...

Cyclists pour into the streets of Portland for the 11th annual World Naked Bike Ride June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola