The Chainlink

Last year, when our daughter told us that she was going to participate in Chicago’s World Naked Bike Ride, I’ll have to admit that it made me a little nervous. She was quick to explain (fortunately) that she was part of the security team for the event, and would be fully clothed for the entire ride. She and the other members of the security team were there largely to ensure that the group of riders stayed together and kept moving.

The first Naked Bike Ride was held in Zaragosa, Spain in 2002. Its stated purpose was (1) to protest oil dependency and (2) celebrating the power and individuality of the human body. Over the years, the message has been simplified, and now focuses on cycling advocacy.

Naked Bike Rides are now held in 74 cities in 17 countries.

The dress code for the event is “bare as you dare”. Although nudity is encouraged for the event, it is not mandatory. Costumes, art bikes, and body art are also encouraged, since they add to the festive nature of the ride.

The policing of the event varies according to local laws. In many locations, the local police  support and facilitate the event, For most locations, the local police force is more neutral, and simply monitors the action. There HAVE been a handful of arrests for “indecent exposure” , but the penalties exacted were very minor.

If you don’t mind being naked in public,there is no shortage of places to do so legally in the NAFTA countries, as well as in at least 30 other countries around the world. Surprisingly, the second largest clothing-optional beach in North America is in Canada, at a place called Wreck Beach (in British Columbia), which gets over 100,000 visitors a year.

Apart from the fact that there IS a party atmosphere to The Naked Bike Ride, the true purpose of the ride is to convey a serious message. As a society, we rely too heavily on our automobiles for our transportation needs. Nearly 90% of the commuting in America is by car, and 77% of those cars only have one passenger. I sell cars for a living, but I wouldn’t mind if more people walked or rode their bikes to work.

I haven’t owned a car for more than 7 years, and that’s also true for both of our children. Our son was seriously injured on his bicycle about 5 years ago when a woman carelessly opened her car door directly in his path, which caused the loss of his job, and a trip to the hospital. As a result, the three of us are more open to "alternative transportation" than a lot of people, and we're also concerned about biker's rights.

Most states in America have a group at least one organization that advocates cycling. In Chicago, the most prominent ones are the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicago Bicycle Federation) and Chain Link.

The next Naked Bicycle Ride in Chicago is this coming Saturday, June 11. If you’d like to participate, or learn more about it, just click on the link below:

If you’re not able to make the event, the link  below will allow you to view the event that was held in London last year:

To quote Humphrey Bogart, “here’s looking at you, kid”.

If you’re not interested in participating at all, that’s all right, ma.

Enjoy the ride !!

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Comment by Vilda on June 10, 2011 at 10:08pm
You're daughter is one of my favorite humans and a valued member of the Chicago Naked Ride Security Crew. Thanks for having an awesome daughter and for amazing support!

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