High Court says offence caused not sufficient enough to convict

New Zealand’s High Court has overturned the conviction of a Wellington man fined for cycling nude on a country road, although the judge was at pains to point out that the ruling did not give cyclists the right to dispense with the Lycra altogether, since individual cases would need to be decided on their own merits.

Nick Lowe, a builder, had been fined NZ$200 plus costs after being stopped by police as he rode his bike near Upper Hutt, 32 kilometres north of Wellington, in March last year following a complaint by a passing female motorist.

Mr Lowe refused to pay the fine and appealed to the High Court, explaining: “It's a lifestyle thing. To put clothes on is uncomfortable. It's not about exhibitionism, I'm just uncomfortable in clothes."

In allowing Lowe’s appeal, Justice Dennis Clifford explained that there were different grades of offensiveness where nudity is concerned, saying that someone cycling naked on a country road could be viewed as less offensive than someone walking along it nude, adding that in Lowe’s case, the woman who complained had been unable to see his genitals.

That meant that the level of offence caused was “quite concerning” rather than “disgusting.”

Justice Clifford cautioned, however, that “this judgement does not mean that nude cycling cannot constitute offensive behaviour,” adding that future cases would need to be examined by the courts on an individual basis.

He added that since Lowe had been stopped on World Naked Bike Day, it could be interpreted that he was showing solidarity for that event.

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.