A planned World Naked Bike Ride in Canterbury next month has been cancelled, partly because organisers of the event were unable to obtain public liability insurance cover for it.
The event, part of a series of rides around the world that act as a protest against car culture and oil dependency as well as highlighting the fragility of the human body, had been due to take place on 26 May.
Organiser Barry Freeman, quoted in The Independent, said that it had proved impossible to obtain insurance cover in time and a potential back-up date of 29 June was impractical since it clashed with roadworks related to a bus lane being installed in the city which would have led to more motor traffic on the route of the ride.
Freeman said: “I therefore decided, for the safety of would-be participants, not to hold a naked bike ride in Canterbury.
“After I’d made my decision, Kent County Council then called off the planned Sturry Road bus lane works, ironically stating there was too much traffic and it would cause chaos,” he continued,
“Yet Canterbury remains one of the worst cities to cycle safely within or across, despite some good outer city routes for cyclists.
“Pollution levels are unacceptably high and to even consider another multi-storey car park shows how little thinking exists within the city council’s traffic management department,” he added.
He denied that the decision not to hold what would have been the sixth edition of the ride in the cathedral city this year was linked to local opposition to it, with local Conservative councillor Neil Baker questioning the cycling credentials of some of the participants.
Writing on the Facebook page of the East Kent Civil Society, he said: “If they were actually regular cyclists making a protest about air pollution issues, they may have a point.
“But given the state of some of them, there is no way they are regular cyclists. You can spot a regular cyclist by their calves due to lactic acid build-up. There may be some who join in, but it stinks of exhibitionism to me.”
In response, Freeman said: “The reason why we ride naked or almost naked is to underline that cyclists are vulnerable, flesh and blood.
“Motorists tend to notice naked cyclists more than those wearing hi-vis clothing. So the message remains, ‘See cyclists when they’re not naked’.”
The Canterbury edition of the World Naked Bike Ride made national headlines in 2015 when a man was asked by organisers to leave the ride due to what one participant referred to, somewhat euphemistically, as his “overexcited” state.
Last month, we reported dates for planed World Naked Bike Rides due to be held in various cities across the UK in the coming months.
Organisers of the London ride point out that "nudity is not illegal in England, as was established in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, but using nudity to intentionally cause harassment, alarm or distress may be illegal.
“Don't act offensively and you are unlikely to be arrested."
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.