This weekend saw hundreds of cyclists take part in World Naked Bike Ride events up and down the UK, protesting car culture and dependency on oil, as well as highlighting the vulnerability of riding a bicycle. And while reports on the ground in London, Brighton and York centred on the carnival atmosphere and enjoyment felt by participants and onlookers alike, the event's reemergence has also seen a surge in online attention, criticism and even a call from one mayoral candidate for the ride to be stopped "to bring back common decency".
Those words were from Greater Manchester independent mayoral candidate Nick Buckley who said the event "will not be allowed" in his city if he is elected. "We need to bring back common decency and self-respect," he claimed. "Morality and lack of shame are missing in action."
This will not be allowed in Greater Manchester next year - if I’m elected Mayor.
We need to bring back common decency and self respect.
Morality and lack of shame are missing in action. https://t.co/bPg37ktGTQ
— Nick Buckley 4 Mayor (@NickBuckleyMBE) June 10, 2023
Hundreds of replies and thousands of shares of Buckley's tweet have seen the discussion around the protest ride intensify, presenter and cyclist Jeremy Vine sharing some of the complaints "getting better and better" as people "clearly spent a lot of time searching for images to get offended by".
From London too came a social media post showing a picture of two of the ride's participants, seemingly fully naked, using the city's Santander hire bikes. Somewhat poetically concluding: "If you want to cycle around London naked that's your business. But use your own bike! The times I've seen them using the London hire bikes on this ride is unbelievable. No one wants [to] hire a bike that someone's sweaty arse crack, balls and fanny have been on all day!"
Vine spoke out about one complaint that claimed "these cyclists ride about without any protective clothing, the majority without a helmet, in the name of safety", and another even more abusive in tone.
"No negative reactions — just cheering, clapping, laughing"
However, social media is not always an accurate reflection of real life, the accounts of the rides from those present paint an altogether different picture than that of the polarisation doomscrolling Twitter might tell you.
In York, around 50 cyclists took part, organiser John Cossham responding to some of the noise by saying there were "no negative reactions".
"Just cheering, clapping, laughing — and we were able to use the spectacle to share our pro-cycling and anti-fossil-fuel sentiments," he wrote in the York Press.
Likewise, on the Sussex coast, in Brighton, riders wore painted slogans and waved flags, saying 'less gas more ass', 'burn fat not oil' and 'no indecent exposure to air pollution'.
The Argus noted how "passers-by lined the streets and cheered as the cyclists made their way through the city", while one participant said it was "liberating".
Glad to see you supporting this Jeremy, it’s funny how some people go out of their way to be offended, personally I enjoyed taking part and 99% of the public seemed to support it.
— sw nudist Dave (@FunPlymouth) June 12, 2023
"It's my favourite day of the year — it's better than Christmas, as far as I'm concerned," another said. "It's nice to ride around my city stark bollock naked, feeling the wind rush against my testicles. It is one of the finer things in life."
York ride organiser Cossham added: "The World Naked Bike Ride highlights cycling as a healthy, clean, climate friendly transport solution that needs more funding. It's fun, with lots of support from onlookers as we ride by."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.