A naturist 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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.