Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ride Naked And Safe

The World Naked Bike Ride is this Saturday.  Last year I rode with the clothed security detail.  I tagged along mostly at the end of the group of thousands of nude, or nearly-nude, riders, my yellow reflective safety vest making me look either official or dorky (or officially dorky).  At one slow point in the ride an astonished female onlooker shouted at me, And what are you supposed to be?  "Security," I happily replied.  Yeah, right, she snarled.  

This year I will again be riding the security detail, doing my best, along with many other volunteers and police officers, to make sure that the ride does not get any weirder than it is supposed to be.  Yeah, right!

Here is a column from this week's Cycling Legalese, published on the Urban Velo website, about how to avoid trouble on the WNBR:

Getting ready for the World Naked Bike Ride? We’ve got some tips to keep you legal and out of jail for the night.
Q:I am thinking about doing my first Naked Ride. I know a lot of people do it, but could I get in trouble?
The World Naked Bike Ride, taking place in cities around the world, is coming up. The reasons for doing it vary by individual, but generally the ride is meant as a celebration of cycling, a work of participatory performance art, and an act of political protest against big oil. It is also meant to draw attention to cyclists as roadway users. (Can you see me now, Mr./Ms. Motorist?)
I have participated in Chicago’s large edition of the event, helping the security detail and the police provide a safe atmosphere for riders. (I ride with the security detail fully clothed. No one wants to see their lawyer streak by in the buff.) From my experience in Chicago, and based on what I have read of the event in other cities, the event is generally peaceful and the police tend to be mostly tolerant. However, there are ways to get in trouble on the ride. Here is a basic guide on how to avoid getting busted:
Ride With The Pack: Staying with the mass of riders you are arguably a part of a well-established political and artistic act meaning that you are probably entitled to the protection of the First Amendment allowing for free speech. On the other hand, once you have separated from the group you are just a dude naked in the street and as such may have a harder time arguing that your conduct is protected under the First Amendment. You could be arrested for violating local indecent exposure laws. If you run into mechanical trouble (with your bike that is) or need to break from the group for any reason, put your clothes on to avoid a run in with the police.
Don’t Act A Fool: It may not be your nakedness that ends up getting you into trouble, but rather your conduct. It seems that some folks down a bit too much liquid courage in preparation for dropping their drawers in front of thousands of city dwellers. Doing so could lead to running afoul of local BUI laws, in places where they exist, or public drunkenness and disorderly conduct laws pretty much everywhere. Avoid alcohol for this event.
Don’t Be A Creep: Perhaps this should go without saying, but be aware that it may not take much to make people around you feel uncomfortable. Do not take anyone’s picture without asking them first. This is common courtesy. Also, be advised that while the World Naked Bike Ride is generally a friendly, welcoming event, unfortunately, it does attract some weirdos who come out just to shoot video and photos. The folks in the security detail will be on the look out for these people but be advised that the creeps do come out. Understand what you are getting into and, as they say, “bare as you dare.”

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