Portsmouth leg of World Naked Bike Ride goes ahead without incident
Police explain they had no powers to ban ride despite local protests
The Portsmouth leg of the World Naked Bike Ride yesterday passed off without incident despite local opposition that had resulted in a petition signed by 1,500 people seeking to stop the event, designed to celebrate the human body, promote cycling and highlight dependency cars and the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.
The ride began at Rock Gardens, Southsea, at midday yesterday and passed through Old Portsmouth, and the city centre on its way back to the start via Elm Grove and Palmerston Road. A video of the event can be found on the BBC website.
Quoted on local news website About My Area, Chief Inspector Ali Heydari, commander for Portsmouth South, said: "Today's naked bike ride in Portsmouth was one of many to have taken place across the UK and it passed without any disturbance or arrests.
"The organisers co-operated fully with police and a route was agreed which took the cyclists around the city in around an hour.
“They were accompanied by a police cycle team of six officers in order to minimise any impact to traffic and the wider community.
“This tactic was successful, resulting in us only having to briefly halt the traffic at one junction to allow the cyclists to pass through one sequence of traffic lights.
“Some people who were against the cycle ride had indicated that they may protest at the event itself. We had to legislate for this and ensure there were enough police officers in attendance to maintain everyone's safety and right to protest peacefully, hence the number of police cyclists originally planned was increased to six.
"Response officers in the Southsea area were aware that the event was taking place and were ready to respond to any incidents or calls for assistance, as they would be with any large event.
"We are aware that some members of the local community did not want this ride to take place and we have listened to them, addressed their concerns and openly answered their questions.
“We have explained to the individuals who did not support the event that we have no powers, either in statute or in common law, to simply ban the ride. There is no precedent in the UK for events such as these to be banned by the police and this decision was reached after full consultation with the force solicitor.
"This event passed off peacefully and without incident and I would like to thank the wider community in Southsea for their co-operation."
Southampton also hosted a World Naked Bike Ride yesterday, while today sees cyclists in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter and London join in the intiative. Tomorrow, it’s Brighton’s turn, while the final British ride this year will be in Bristol next Sunday.