Stand and fight or run and hide?

No freedom has ever been freely given, freedoms have always been taken, and the only question is whether we stand and fight, or run and hide. The people who pioneer the new, (because not “normal”), views are inevitably regarded as extremists. Today, we bow to lesbian/gay rights, women voters, etc.Only because some people made a hard stand during difficult times.

Stand and fight?

When those people were fighting for OUR rights, most people called them extremists and nutcases.

Imid-20120717_103914f Emily Parkhurst had been “sensitive to the appropriateness of the situation”, I’m sure she would not have thrown herself under the King’s horse and women would probably still not have the vote. Nelson Mandela is another example of precisely the same case where one man suffers for years under the barbaric of the current regime, while today he is hailed as a hero. He was fortunate, he was able to enjoy his last years of life in freedom.

Alan Turing is another who was shamed, and forcefully chemically “treated”, by the government of his time, for the crime of following his own harmless activities. Turing was so persecuted that he committed suicide rather than face the rest of his life as a chemically castrated individual.

What fate awaits Stephen Gough?

Riders should wear helmet and shoes!

Initially the police, particularly of any town new to the WNBR, may be nervous of the idea of nudity and as such they will want to control the ride closely. They may also be reluctant to appear to condone the event in any way and the risk of arrest is likely to remain in many cities in the early years. 

Police are initially reserved

std-p1050506-bcThe experience of most cities, London in the UK, Vancouver in Canada, Seattle and Portland in the USA, Zaragoza in Spain, Turin in Italy, Brussels in Belgium, and Golden Bay in New Zealand, to name but a few of the many WNBR cities around the world, is that even where police are initially reserved about the WNBR, once they’ve experienced a ride or two, the general observation appears to be that they relax, and are much happier to see body painting and partial- or often full- nudity.

At the end of the St. Louis the policewoman who had been leading the entire ride through the town, stopped the traffic with her car to let the riders return to the parking lot at the starting point and then began taking video like a spectator, while naked cyclists rode past her saying “thank you” for doing such a good job during the event.

The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon, for instance, can also be seen to be entering into the light hearted spirit of the event when they recommend: “that all riders at least wear a helmet and shoes to avoid any potential injuries.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The music I listen to dares me to live

In the modern world, it’s not necessary any more for people to close their windows on nudity, indeed being naked to attract attention to a cause would be a bit pointless if everyone did.

std-20120610-img_2976_zf-0005-14698-1-003-bcFortunately that’s not the case in these more modern times and in fact members of the public who see the WNBR, as it passes them in the high street, are almost unanimously very supportive.

Of course, there are always one or two diehard, puritanical souls who express dismay and disgust with down-turned mouths, sour fish-faces and distasteful thoughts in only their minds, but the vast majority of people applaud and clap, and wave enthusiastically.

As Troy Marusek, who bicycled 800 miles from Chicago to St. Louis to join two separate WNBRs from his home town of Lexington, KY, relates: “A lot of the music I listen to dares me to live, and not to waste my life.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The WNBR message of enjoyment and fun!

One of the clearest messages one gets from looking at images of people participating in the ride is that they are all enjoying themselves immensely, as are the public too, of course, and this is clear to see from the photographs presented in this book. Certainly some of the more amusing images are where the public and the riders interact in some way.

Clearly exposed fallacy

And these images clearly expose, if you’ll pardon the pun, the fallacy that nudity might be either shocking or dangerous, in any form, whether to adults or to children, in public, to young or old, or in any context. std-turin_world_naked_bike_pride_014-bcWe have a clothed bystander helping a naked rider pack her clothes in her saddle-bag, right in the middle of the high street while next to a double-decker bus full on onlookers; a man next to a proud and naked lady of 84 years standing by the marble column of the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, London; a naked man posing alongside a group of perfectly happy and fully clothed teenage girls; a young naked student couple keeping each other company, sitting on the grass, while they protest against oil abuse; The naked cameraman interviewing the two clothed policewomen. An elderly clothed couple looking on serenely while surrounded by, and talking to, naked and topless WNBR participants. The naked woman cycling happily beside the clothed woman along the protest route together; the fully uniformed police officers cycling happily and peacefully within the group of naked riders. These are gorgeous little vignettes of tolerance and co-operation within a mass protest.

These images all show the way in which the WNBR enhances itself as an environmental protest, bringing the participants and the public together in a very special clothed and naked chiaroscuro. Many images from the WNBR are truly excellent and belong in the photo-documentary slot of any comprehensive photographic library purporting to be representative of modern times, and we present a frustratingly space-determined selection of these images, from the many hundreds submitted, for your curiosity here. The entertainment value is greatly enhanced when the locations also cry out for recognition. For instance, the London route wends it’s naked way through such famous landmarks as Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Whitehall, Westminster, Waterloo, Fleet Street, The Royal Courts of Justice, Wellington Arch, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London; all with the happy accompaniment of cheering crowds.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Arrested for indecent exposure!

Simon Oosterman has the dubious honour of being the first person to be arrested and charged by a police officer for the apparently heinous crime of being naked while painted blue when he was organizer of the 2005 WNBR in Auckland, New Zealand. He also appeared on the street outside the court fully naked while protesting his innocence, and he is credited with coining the phrase “Stop the indecent exposure to vehicle emissions!” .

Arrested for indecent exposure charges dropped

The charge of Indecent Exposure against Simon was later dropped. Michael Hammond was also charged with Indecent Exposure in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and, in dismissing the charge, the judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that cycling naked had become a “well-established tradition” in Portland and understood as a form of “symbolic protest against cars and possibly the nations dependence on fossil fuels.” std-wnbr1-bcDaniel Johnson, was charged with Indecent Exposure while organizer of the WNBR in Seattle, Washington state in 2010.

Several months after the event these charges were dropped when the office of the City Attorney changed hands: yet another clear case of prudish personal opinion backed up by an official power base.

Gilles was arrested for being naked at the WNBR in Paris, France in 2010; all charges were subsequently dropped. The same year we have photographs of Gilles being accompanied by friendly and smiling police officers in the 2010 London and Brighton UK WNBRs, just across the English Channel. Where is the consistency; where is the even-handed impartial rule of law; in this picture of our authoritarian or free world?

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The war on [insert favourite topic here]

The very phrase: ‘the war on [insert favourite topic here]’ is almost always about reducing personal freedom and increasing repression and intolerance in one form or another.

std-img_0683-bcIntolerance breeds hostility and leads only to war and terrorism, whether via Prohibition or Al-Qaida or Communism or Witchcraft. This is why true tolerance is so important for modern civilization to learn.

As John Lennon said: “The main hangup in the world today is hypocrisy and insecurity. If people can’t face up to the fact of other people being naked or smoking pot, or whatever they want to do, then we’re never going to get anywhere.” Lennon was speaking in 1969, have we moved on?


Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Never mind Shakespeare…

It is clear that our lives are defined by the space between the two camps of; firstly, our thoughts on our own actions; and secondly, by our fear of what other people might think.

std-100_8307-bcNever mind Shakespeare

the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius pointed this out some two thousand years ago: “All is as thinking makes it so.”

Simply taking part in an environmental protest movement makes one an object of curiosity for many people, and while the majority of the public will be cheering the riders on, the media are busy interviewing the participants, regardless as to whether they are naked or clothed.


Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Repeatedly amazed

I’m repeatedly amazed at the quizzical responses I get when I tell people that I, or my wife and I, just got back from a nude hike up a river trail to a distant peak. “Don’t the bugs get to you?” “Don’t your ‘privates’ get scratched by the brush?” “You must have one nasty sunburn!” “What if somebody sees you?” “Couldn’t you get arrested?”

I tell these people that in ten years I have had only one person go so far as to voice a brief objection, and that I have never had any more problems with the flora and fauna than I have had when dressed. mid-20120717_103914Try it, I tell them, you’ll like it. If nothing else, hike clothed out to the middle of nowhere.

When you get there leave all your clothes in a secluded spot and bravely walk naked 100 yards in any direction. By the time you return you will have had an epiphany that will change your life. To encourage naturists to get out into the great alpine outdoors au naturel, I offer the following twelve suggestions. My goal when hiking nude is to have a good time, and to do so safely, lawfully, without any lewd behavior, and in such a manner that I and my companions will most likely be alone.

My experiences arise primarily from hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, but these suggestions should apply to hiking nude in any alpine setting.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Mark Storey.

Staying dressed is a meme complex

Always staying dressed is a meme complex; it is learned behaviour as is naturism. Naturists would argue their behaviour provides significant benefit and is therefore good but its success as a meme complex is less clear. Although millions have tried and enjoyed some aspect of a naturist lifestyle, counter memes are very strong in their effect.

Counter meme

The counter meme is that which causes people always to be dressed, even under extreme circumstances, reinforced by religious memes that cause a feeling of guilt about bodies, enjoyment or sensual experience. Why is the dressed meme complex more powerful than the naturist meme? Because it is reinforced from childhood and fuelled by inappropriate sanctions like such as eternal damnation of sinners etc. It has developed into a very successful meme complex, one that replicates with amazing vigour. When asked, most adults will say they have no argument against nudity from an intellectual point of view but they would not participate for emotional reasons, their memes are more powerful than rationality.

To reinforce this and to make their memes even more successful, those who say “I don’t mind if other people are naked” will almost invariably say “but I realise that most other people will object”. This dual nature of their meme complex is probably the central reason it is so successful at replicating. When naturists challenge this view, the results are surprising; MORI polls in the UK indicate that over 90% of the population think naturists are harmless but the second part of the meme will still cause very effective replication, “stay dressed not for me but for others”.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Howard Anderson.

Education is everything

Education, is everything, sharing knowledge enables the people to resist control and more effectively utilize their lives for their own benefit, instead of merely as either paid or unpaid slaves.

A question often asked throughout history by the ruling classes: what would the peasantry do when not gainfully employed. std-dsc_2051-bcIt was the custom in the 1800s to employ children between the ages of five and ten for up to thirteen hours per day in the textile mills of northern counties in England, a source of great wealth for the upper echelon of the British Empire at the time.

The labour reformer, Robert Owen, was asked, during a parliamentary inquiry in 1816, why he did not continue to employ such young children in his mills, and why instead he chose to educate them: “Would not there be a danger of their acquiring, by that time, vicious habits, for want of regular occupation?” His reply: “My own experiences leads me to say, that I found quite the reverse, that their habits have been good in proportion to the extent of their instruction.”, was quite unpopular at the time and led to him having to buy out his partners so he could run his business along more liberal lines. He stood in stark contrast against the prevailing group-think of his times. A pioneer.

All of us tend to take for granted the current freedoms, education, future prospects, lifestyle choices, which we (it is hoped) enjoy, but each freedom has been hard-won, and is always in danger of being lost by inaction. The WNBR stands for our rights to push boundaries, to cast aside social convention, to protest in the manner of our own choosing, to declare ourselves both unique and individual, and surely in control of our own destinies.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.