An MP has slammed today’s Naked Bike Ride in Clacton as “offensive exhibitionism”.
Douglas Carswell MP says he would like to prevent the ride from taking place in the future, as cyclists prepare to set off from the Toby Carvery, in Marine Parade West, at 2pm today.
The ride is supposed to be an “environmental protest against car culture and a celebration of the bicycle and the body”, and was held for the first time in Clacton last year.
Mr Carswell has written to the police, who say that although they would like it to be cancelled, they would not be able to stop the ride as it is not illegal. Tendring Council has also asked for it to be cancelled.
Mr Carswell told the Clacton and Frinton Gazette: “There is a legitimate right of protest in this country, but this nude cycle ride is, in my view, just exhibitionism."
This year’s route takes the ride away from the town centre and the council has published it to ensure that the public can avoid the naked riders.
Last year we reported how Clacton on Sea tried to ban nudist events after World Naked Bike Ride.
Peter Halliday, Leader of Tendring District Council, reckoned enough was enough after two months that saw residents strip off for both the protest ride as well as a skinny dip on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Last year, around 35 naked cyclists participated in a 17-kilometre protest ride around the town.
Mr Halliday said: “Clacton is a traditional family seaside resort and in my opinion people riding around on bikes with no clothes on does nothing to enhance our image – in fact it harms it,” he said.
“They did not apply to use land under our responsibility so there was little we could do other than work with other agencies on a bit of a damage limitation exercise
“However, I now want to get together with the Police and others round the table and come up with a plan to put a halt to naked events in our area before it all goes too far.”
Essex Police however said: “There has been precedent from similar events held in Brighton and London in the past and it was deemed that there were no legal grounds to prevent it going ahead.”
Robert Brown, who organised the Clacton event in a series of World Naked Bike Rides, said that the councillors were missing the point of the rides.
He said: “The event was to protest against car culture and the idea of riding naked is to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists. Being naked in public isn’t an offence in itself.
“Similar events are held in towns and cities around the world and across the UK in places like Brighton, Portsmouth and London. The London event attracts thousands of people and benefits shops and traders in the area.
“There were more people in favour of our event than against it. On Saturday we were given a huge cheer as we rode down the High Street.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.