The World Naked Bike Ride wants to make a point that there are many things more offensive than a bare bum. The indecent exposure is not to some guy’s twig n’ berries, but to our polluted environment.
On Saturday, Toronto was among 70 cities around the world that took a spin au naturel as a celebration of cycling, a protest against car culture, a comment on pollution, or just to express some exhibitionist tendencies. And in case you’re wondering about the legality of being nude in public, the police were there as escorts, and as long as the participants were wearing something (shoes, for example), they weren’t technically nude. As with Pride celebrations, what constitutes lewd behaviour and indecency is sometimes vague, but in the case of the WNBR, the cops tend to be more tolerant as long as there isn’t any “flaunting.”
Though nude cycling events had existed previously in Canada and Spain, the first World Naked Bike Ride was organized in 2004. Nude cyclists have also participated in Critical Mass rides, and Seattle’s Fremont Summer Solstice Parade (NSFW) is probably the most flamboyant of naturist cycling events. The WNBR neither requires participants to be nude nor on a bicycle, and many only go topless and choose to ride on skateboards or in-line skates.
Toronto’s ride began at Coronation Park with about twenty riders who continued up Yonge to Bloor, and then to Kensington Market. Most participants were male, but by the downtown stretch, some women had joined the pack. In contrast, Montreal’s group was larger and attracted more spectators—many with cameras. There were also rides in Vancouver, Ottawa, Victoria, Mexico City and Madrid, and participants in Paris and London actually numbered in the hundreds.
With Ontario’s legalized toplessness, an official nude beach and naturist organizations like TNT!MEN (NSFW), Torontonians seem to be growing into our birthday suits, if only for a few short summer months each year.
Photo by pixelwrangler (less work-safe images are at his Flickr page).