Hundreds of cyclists in several cities throughout Britain enjoyed the annual World Naked Bike Ride at the weekend – although they had to endure rather less balmy temperatures than their counterparts in places such as San Francisco and Madrid did. Rides took place in Southampton on Friday, Cardiff, Exeter and London on Saturday, and Brighton and Bristol yesterday, following similar events last week in Manchester and York.
Wherever the location, the aim of the rides was the same – to celebrate not only cycling but also the human body while demonstrating its fragility, as well as highlighting the world’s dependency on oil.
In Southampton, the ride was also dedicated to Mark Brummell, a former university lecturer and member of the Southampton Cycling Campaign, killed last month when he was struck by a car in the New Forest. A minute’s silence was held in his memory by the 150 cyclists participating in Friday’s ride.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, organiser Rob Jordan said: “Although cycling is very healthy and a great way to get around it does have its risks.
“This is about making people aware of cyclists on the roads.
“I’d like more people to get out on their bikes and we also want people who design junctions and plan road layouts to think bike,” he continued.
“I think the atmosphere is outstanding and it’s amazing everyone has made such an effort. Regardless of the cold weather people are stripping off and it’s just great to have their support.”
Further along the coast in Brighton, the ride drew inspiration from the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece, as well as London 2012, with the bike ride preceded by a run and followed by a swim in the sea – rather bracing, we imagine.
In Cardiff, meanwhile, holding its fifth annual ride, Cardiff City Council refused to allow permission for it to use the city’s parks.
Responsibility for managing the event this year passed from South Wales Police to the council, which said it did "not give formal permission for nudity in parks," reports BBC Wales.
Organiser Nick Wysoczanskyj said before the ride: "I'm making plans to go to the parks whatever. We have used them for three years now, we haven't had a complaint.
"We have had a very positive response from the public and this has been passed on from the police.”
One of the reasons for planning to finish the ride at the city’s Sophia Gardens was so that cyclists wouldn’t have to stop and dismount at the end of a main road, and Mr Wysoczanskyj added: "I don't want anyone who chooses to take part in the protest to suffer more risk than they have to."
A Cardiff council spokesperson told the BBC: "Although staff would only intervene in the world public [sic] bike ride if a complaint is made by a member of the public, we would neither facilitate the event nor condone it."
After the event, Mr Wysoczanskyj claimed that the council's inflexibilty had put cyclists at risk.
“In previous years the ride has been very relaxed and very inclusive, and had a carnival atmosphere, but that experience was very much put at risk," he told Wales Online
“This year we had buses cutting into the lane, several aggressive taxi drivers, and we had cars cutting past – that could have caused serious injury.”
He added: “The situation with the council this year has left me slightly dejected. In the five years, that’s the first negative experience I have had from any of the rides.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.