Towns and cities across Britain will next month play host to the World Naked Bike Ride, which last year saw 3,000 riders throughout the UK join thousands of others in more than 50 cities around the world. The rides are aimed at celebrating cycling and the human body, while highlighting the fragility of the latter and the impact on the environment of dependency on fossil fuels.
So far, rides are confirmed in 11 towns and cities, with others potentially set to join them. Those so far officially scheduled are in Manchester (3 June), York (4 June), Portsmouth, Southampton (both 10 June), Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter and London (all 11 June), Brighton & Hove and Bristol (no sniggering at the back please – both 12 June) and Sheffield (18 June).
Some of those rides still have to have exact details finalised, so be sure to check on the UK version of the World Naked Bike Ride website about timings and assembly points. Other towns and cities that may be hosting a ride this year are Bath, Belfast, Cambridge, Canterbury, Glasgow, Leeds, Oxford and Totnes.
In Exeter, organiser Maurice Spurway from Exeter Friends of the Earth, told the website This Is Exeter that the ride was aimed at showing the fragility of the human body.
While local businesses are reported to oppose the event, both the local police force and Devon County Council have been informed of it and neither has made an objection.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, himself a keen cyclist, said: "I welcome any event that draws attention to the benefits of cycling as long as it stays within the law and does not inconvenience others."
Others are not so welcoming of the ride, however.
Exeter City Centre manager John Harvey told the website: "I think it is up to individuals to make their own mind up on this. It is, as I understand, an event to raise awareness of environmental issues and I guess it is being done in a way that will get noticed.
"But I do think people may react to it quite strongly and clearly it is potentially quite a sensitive issue.
He added: "It would not surprise me if a significant number of people react in a fairly negative way to this on the basis that it is simply not appropriate.”
Andrew McNeilly, manager of the Guildhall Shopping Centre, said: "I would question why someone would need to ride naked to make an environmental point.
"Surely there must be better ways to engage with whoever they want to in order to make a difference.
"Other than that, if someone wants to ride naked through Exeter then good luck to them,” although he added, "I can see how it might easily offend some people."
Mr Spurway however said that the response received so far had been highly encouraging.
“Being on a bicycle provides an opportunity to remove oil dependency and have fun at the same time,” he explained.
"It is happening in cities around the world and is coming to Exeter as someone who was on the Brighton naked bike ride came to live here and wanted to organise one.
"We have had huge support for it and not experienced any adverse reaction.
"We don't view it as indecent. What is indecent is that even though we are running out of fossil fuels we are continuing to burn them. It is also indecent that people are dying as a result of pollution from cars.
"The reason for being naked is to highlight just how fragile human bodies are.
"It is not essential for people to be totally naked. It will be a bright and colourful occasion," he concluded.
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