Naked cyclist faces trial in Bournemouth for riding in the buff

Naturist claims South Coast locals less "liberal and open-minded" than Cambridge residents

by Simon_MacMichael   August 15, 2010  

Gavel

 A naturist from nicknamed ‘the Cambridge Nude Cyclist’ has found locals less tolerant of his penchant for riding while nude since moving to Bournemouth and now faces trial later this year on charges of causing “harassment, alarm or distress.”

Richard Collins, a 53-year-old father of two who helped bring the World Naked Bike Ride to the UK, moved to the Dorset seaside resort from Cambridge after his wife, who disapproved of his riding naked, divorced him, although he officially still resides in Hardwick, near the university town.

After appearing before Bournemouth magistrates this week for a pre-trial hearing, he told Cambridge News: “I’m disappointed Dorset police aren’t as enlightened as officers in Cambridge, London, and other parts of the country. Police in Cambridge, in the main, didn’t have a problem with it.”

He continued: “No-one ever complained and Cambridge people are much more liberal and open-minded – they are relaxed about the whole idea.”

Well, not quite everyone. Collins was twice arrested after cycling naked in Cambridge, as well as for dancing nude during the Big Weekend festival on the city’s Parker’s Piece, although charges were dropped in all of those cases, as was a prosecution for naked cycling in London.

Should the Bournemouth case go before magistrates as planned in December, it will therefore be the first time he has had to explain himself in court.

The present case dates back to June 30, when Collins was cycling along Bournemouth’s promenade on his way to get the ferry to a naturist beach, accompanied by two friends who were wearing clothes. A motorist called the police, who arrested him, with magistrates told that his riding naked had alarmed “many people.”

However, Collins insists that “I wasn’t threatening because I was just riding along minding my own business, and as soon as I stopped I got off and got dressed. We have freedom of expression, which includes doing things other people may find shocking or offensive.”

He added that the potential court case “really is a waste of money, particularly with the cutbacks.”

Collins isn’t the first cyclist to get into trouble for cycling on Bournemouth’s promenade, although the ones we have previously reported on have been wearing clothes. Last year, national cyclists’ organisation CTC branded as “ridiculous and excessive” the use of speed guns on the prom by police officers to ensure that cyclists were complying with a 10mph speed limit.

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I used to work with a guy who admitted being a naturist. He was a bit wierd. Are they all like that?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1680 posts]
15th August 2010 - 22:41

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I was at primary school with some kids, French father, British mother, whose parents used to take them on naturist holidays in the South of France each summer.

We knew this, because the parents told other parents about it quite freely over the wine and cheese at parents' evenings at our school.

If they thought the other kids' parents wouldn't bat an eyelid, or wouldn't tell their own children, they were wrong. And you know what kids can be like... poor sods.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [6799 posts]
15th August 2010 - 22:54

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Richard Collins is a bit of an eccentric and certainly not typical of naturists in general, but you have to ask yourself; who has he harmed? As far as I know the motorist was the only person alarmed enough to call the police and one wonders what the real source of his alarm was. If over a thousand naked cyclists can be cheered on by crowds around London (World Naked Bike Ride a couple of weeks before this incident), just how many people are truly 'alarmed' by the sight of a naked cyclist?

Real harm may be done to everyone's personal freedom if the succeed in prosecuting him under the Public Order Act as they are seeking to do, as this would considerably lower the threshold for conviction under that act. On the other hand, if he is not convicted and the government decide on a knee-jerk reaction to tighten the law, this could be just as bad.

It is to be hoped that the courts and the government can see that he is a harmless eccentric who poses no threat to anyone.

If God had meant us to be naked, we'd have been born without clothes.

BritishNaturism's picture

posted by BritishNaturism [1 posts]
16th August 2010 - 2:01

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I regularly ride in a buff - I find it keep the early morning chill off my neck.

I'll get my coat.

posted by adscrim [96 posts]
16th August 2010 - 10:46

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This is a local issue, not a governmental one. He can't say he hasn't had fair warning either.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1680 posts]
16th August 2010 - 14:30

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The worst bit about this article is the local plod using speed guns to enforce a 10mph speed limit ... are they really that under-employed?

posted by John G [53 posts]
16th August 2010 - 14:52

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