It´s an everyday thing to see a cyclist on the streets at the mercy of the passing cars. It´s not quite as run of the mill to come across lots of cyclists, together, and protesting for their rights. And it´s really not common at all to find a huge gathering of naked cyclists peddling happily down the road.
Each year, various cities round the world celebrate the World Naked Bike Ride, which is joined in by pro-cyclist activist groups, ecological organizations, supporters for the cause, and often just anybody who are up for a laugh, and want to spend a day breezing through the city with no clothes on.
The international movement is a throwback from the “critical mass,” phenomenon, which first started in China, where cyclists gathered together whilst marching, and crossed streets without any risk, gaining a safety in numbers. The strange event triggered pro city cycling marches in New York in 1992, and soon after the term “critical mass” was coined. However, it was in Zaragoza, Spain where the first nude cyclist demonstration took place, on the 14th of June 2001, with 45 participants, who cycled nude in protest of the Plan de Tráfico y Transportes, which ignored the proposals of ecological groups in the city, and excluded the cyclist and his rights in general, prioritizing the motor vehicle driver. The event had huge repercussions within the media, and the Aragon Collective of Ciclo-nudists was born. And in 2003, Conrad Smith organized a nude bicycle ride with the art collective “Artist for Peace” in Canada. Both demonstrations were happening simultaneously and unknowingly, until in 2004 when the World Naked Bike Ride was born, and started to take on global proportions. That year, 28 cities from 10 countries participated, and in 2010 it had grown to 74 cities and 17 countries. It isn´t always held on the same day, as the event is so dependent on geographical, and climate issues.
These types of events, as well as being a political protest, encourage creative expression – there are often lots of bicycles – and bodies- festooned with coloured paints and accessories. The march has faced criticism for “offending public space” and causing exhibitionist behavior. However, those in defense of the movement point out that there are no sexual undertones to cyclonudism – and that on the contrary, it is a day of peaceful protest, families, free and healthy, celebrating the natural part of life which has been lost with technology: enjoying the great outdoors, without cars or clothes. The 2011 edition in Spain will be in the middle of June, with the exact date still to be confirmed. Expect anxious newcomers, and a few people on skateboards coming along for the ride, and taking advantage of the car-less streets.
For further information about the event, and this year´s edition go to website http://www.ciclonudista.net/
Spain is one of the best places for the ciclo-nudist demonstration. If you fancy participating in this event, or just want to watch, you could find Madrid accommodation where in June, the eighth edition of this edition kicks off.
Translated by: Poppy