Reduce levels of carbon emissions

There are calculations to show that we can reduce levels of carbon emissions in the future, and one can only hope methods will be found which will be capable of implementing some of these options. The costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol realistically are estimated at approximately 0.1% of GDP for each participating country. These figures are huge, and there’s no doubt we’re talking about a massive economic resource dedicated to a very specific problem.

We need people to grow up and begin to use their brains; if the planet cannot sustain human life because its atmosphere is polluted beyond use, or our environment becomes too hot to inhabit, then making and selling vitamin pills and flu vaccines, or arming our neighbours to kill each other, become somewhat superfluous considerations. std-turin_world_naked_bike_pride_024-bcWe’re not talking about thousands or even millions of people here, we’re talking about many billions of people, all of us: the entire human race. The sense of commitment to serious issues affecting our lives today, and the lives of our children in the future, appears to be absent. We are more concerned with short-term revenue than with long-term survival. What does that tell us about ourselves? These facts are why so many people take to the road with their bicycles and cycle naked around the city, to bring this information to our attention.

Even though precise figures, long term plans and general policies can be debated – for there are surely arguments for and against the prioritization of one perceived danger over another, with both economical and practical considerations – there are still clearly large numbers of people suffering and dying every day from car-related, airborne particulates and oil-based pollutants, as well as from traffic accidents whether driving, walking or cycling. It is clear that with figures like these one has to wonder whether politicians, and authorities such as the police, are being disingenuous when they declare a need to crack down on, for instance, marijuana (with zero deaths per year, as confirmed by medical journals), while they ignore the dangerous pollutants all around us and the many thousands of deaths worldwide each and every single day. The mind really boggles at the apparently unequal importance of various issues when one just takes a minute to consider their relative value according to this simple ‘show me the numbers’ rule.

Marijuana deaths = 0 per year, oil based extraction and usage deaths = 170,000+ per year, alcohol related deaths = 250,000+ per year. With figures like these, one could be forgiven for wondering what the problem is with marijuana or nudity, when the numbers so clearly demonstrate otherwise, and it seems certain that outdated fundamentalist religious morals play a large role in that answer. Perhaps, as any serious financier might do, when faced with questions of what we permit the government to spend our tax money on, we just need to pull out a calculator ourselves.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Naked or nude?

Is there a difference between being naked or nude, in private or in public? John Berger makes the case: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others… nudity is placed on display.”

This highlights the perspective that the protesters are naked for their own cause, using the historic value of nakedness as the expressing truth and innocence, while the media are seeing the riders as on display for the public’s benefit. Can one std-125611521.vziayiup-bcbe both, or is being naked or nude a binary state? Is it possible to be yourself, while others see you in their own way?

Can we ever be free of the ‘considered opinion’ of the judgments of another, unless, as John Stuart Mills said, we stand firm for our inalienable right to hold an alternative view from the ever popular “tyranny of the majority”, regardless of the potential personal cost to the individual and thus society itself.

Having the freedom to clothe your own body in the way you see fit, and not from the dictates of prudish, guilty and shameful thoughts, is a step towards personal freedom for everybody. We actually can use our own bodies and minds in the way we each choose, but we need to believe in this as individuals, and to know this as an inalienable civil right.

Naked or nude as a public nuisance?

This is what Vincent Bethell’s Freedom to be Yourself campaign , started in 1998 in London, was concerned with, and after spending five months in solitary confinement awaiting his court appearance for being a ‘public nuisance’, he insisted on attending court naked. This was a jury trial, and he was judged by a panel of his peers, who unanimously found him not guilty of the charge. While the presiding Judge George Bathurst-Norman warned him darkly: “I would not go away too much with that idea”, he also appended the crucial: “It is simply not a public nuisance in these circumstances.”

Notwithstanding the judge’s hesitating support for the defense, essentially this was a great victory for the cause for freedom of choice where individualism, and public nakedness, is concerned.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Naked in a public space

The photographic images presented here tell the tale of the ride itself, as well as a few of its related stories, and each “picture is worth a thousand words”. Indeed, many images from the WNBR are truly excellent and belong in the photo-std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcdocumentary slot of any comprehensive photographic library purporting to be representative of modern times, and we present a frustratingly small selection of these images for your curiosity here.

However, there are still some people who wish to join the WNBR and yet not take part in the photographic record, which seems to be an untenable position in principle. This is a very naturist kind of outlook, the wanting to be naked and wanting other people to see, but not wanting anyone to take a photograph, for some unspoken, half-guessed at reason. At a WNBR event, this approach just does not wash.

Naked in public

When someone is naked in a public space, and when that person is clearly taking part in a massively advertised protest event, which event is expressly designed to attract the media, photographers and news reporters from all around the world, there is very little credit to be had from complaining when someone takes a photograph. I don’t think anyone would assume this opinion to be valid legal counsel for photographing naked people in public in every country around the world, but certainly anyone who attends a WNBR event has almost certainly voided any reasonable claim to privacy, and it’s almost certain the law courts would take a similar view in any sensible case.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Goldfinger

There’s an old myth about body painting being dangerous, as it supposedly doesn’t let your skin breathe, so-called epidermal suffocation. This was the gimmick used in the James Bond (Sean Connery) movie Goldfinger in 1964, when std-2012_0609wnbr20120057-bcthe girl Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), was covered in gold paint and apparently died a terrible death from suffocation.

This is an entertaining fantasy, but the skin on the human just does not breathe in the same way we might imagine by comparing this organ with our lungs, and if you can breathe through your mouth, covering your skin in a safe paint will make no difference to you.

Goldfinger myth

I suspect the origin of this myth goes back to the days of the Judy Garland movie, The Wizard of Oz in 1939, when the actor playing the Tin Man (Buddy Ebsen) role became seriously ill and was hospitalized because of inhaling dangerous metal flakes from the unsafe aluminium-based paint make-up, which was used at the time.

Today’s body paint is safe and fun to use, although it’s still worth pointing out that one should of course use body paint made for the purpose, and not just any old paint one happens to have to hand. Kids put paint on for fancy dress parties, and WNBR protest activists wear body paint to both attract attention to the cause and to have fun.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Voyeurism

Shall we say goodbye to all the Big Brother and American Idol style TV shows, because ‘they encourage exhibitionism or voyeurism’. Never mind whether these shows are morally uplifting, or not, according to the dictates of the repressed std-125594771.d9onfni5-bcand deviant mindset of the puritan hypocrite, clearly these ideas are supported with enthusiasm by the general population and people vote with their feet, their television control units, and their internet browsers.

And the vote is they want to see someone who wants to be seen. Exhibitionism and voyourism are intrinsically linked in our genetic make up, and we see this effect in our social environments, whether private or public.

Voyeurism by the media

Voyeurism is the same charge leveled at the media when they click frantically, capturing all the bare naked flesh on show at a typical WNBR, only to have publication in their newspapers denied because of the editors who fear their advertisers and their readership, or their paymaster. What man doesn’t want to gawk at the naked ladies? What woman doesn’t want to peer sideways at the naked men, and pretend she’s not looking? Of course any public naked event can be seen as a gay boys’ paradise, as there is usually a predominance of naked men than naked women, although in London particularly the numbers are more balanced. But is this important?

Does it matter whether someone, somewhere might be a little excited by seeing a printed image of a naked person on a bicycle, whether they are gay or straight, male or female? I applaud the many women who take part either to support their menfolk or to support the WNBR itself, just as I applaud the many men who continue to pioneer the original concept of non-sexual public nudity

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

WNBR

The World Naked Bike Ride book by Richard Foley

Available from Amazon and all good book distributors via ISBN: 978-0-9572432-0-0

The World Naked Bike Ride is a global protest against oil dependency and urban pollution, promoting greater cycling safety on our roads, and encouraging body freedom for everyone.

Extract: There is surely a sensible and sustainable balance to be found between use and abuse. We need to take a decision about the kind of world in which we want to
live, and about the kind of world we want our children, and their children, to
inherit. These are the choices we have to make and the question is, really,
who makes them? As Rachel Carson pointed out, when writing about the poisoning
of the natural world by the chemical industries: “Who has decided? … the
decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power; he has
made it during a moment of inattention by millions to whom beauty and the
ordered world of nature still have a meaning that is deep and imperative.”

This book visually describes the environmental awareness event, the history of how it started, the people who take part, and the motivations behind this very public demonstration.

Foreword by Conrad Schmidt.
Including 250 NSFW images (inc. a selection of sfw images).

 

What if someone at work finds out?

A new set of issues are of course raised by being naked in a public space and having people take photographs of you.

std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcFirst of all, it’s not always possible to know the precise reasons behind every camera, the intentions of the photographer; secondly, you have to ignore the possibility of someone finding the images exciting, because running your life on the basis of what other people think or find titillating is a very sad state of affairs to be in; and thirdly, horror of horrors, what if someone from work finds out?

Really, most of us don’t live in the repressive and hypocritical Victorian or Biblical eras any more, thank goodness, and people are generally much more mature in their knowledge of nudity these days. I recall a recent employer of mine discussing a project, where there was need of some confrontational joviality to lighten the mood, and knowing my penchant for naked activities, suggesting we do a naked Maori Haka for the other half of the team. Clearly the idea of being naked at work is not as outrageous as some would have us believe.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

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.

How much pollution from car exhaust fumes?

A Greenpeace UK study reported that 75% of the nitrogen oxides, 29% of the carbon dioxide, and 97% of the carbon monoxide to which inhabitants of London are exposed come from car exhaust fumes. The same source report suggests the actual cost of air pollution in Bangkok is between USD 1.3 bn. and USD 3.1 bn., and in Manila is USD 1.8 bn.

Brain damage

The side effects of the exhausts from oil based industries and the millions of internal combustion engines driving all around the world include brain damage to children, acid rain damage to buildings, adverse health effects and a general lower quality of life for people exposed to airborne pollutants. std-_mg_4286-bcNor are pollutants the only danger to face non-car road users, and one of the major aims of the WNBR is to make people more aware of the perils of riding a bicycle on todays roads.

In the UK alone, between 100 and 200 cyclists have been killed on the roads in accidents every year since 1995, although according to official figures the numbers are decreasing, even while the numbers of cyclists using the roads are increasing.

Even if the numbers dying and injured are dropping, it is clear the cost of pollution escalates as more and more drivers take to the roads, since many families now have two, and sometimes more, cars for their household. Heather Brooke, in the UK, notes that while apparently overall “deaths on the roads declined by 18% … evidence from the UK Department of Health on the number of people admitted to hospital after road accidents did not show a decline.” Perhaps the authorities need to double-check their numbers.

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.