The Naked Bike Ride is the World’s Funnest Protest
June 24th // Portland Oregon // pdxwnbr.org
Every day is a protest, or at least the opportunity for one. We’ve all got reasons to rise up in the morning and we’ve all got reasons to protest the bullshit. We don’t need a big sign. We don’t a hashtag. All we need is a reason & action. It’s our deeds, not our words, that cause the greatest change.
The World Naked Bike Ride is one of those protests that speaks clearly through action. The ride takes place around the world in countries such as Canada, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the UK, and a small neighborhoodly city in the States. Portland Oregon’s ride attracts about 10,000 people every year. It basically shuts the city down. The cops work overtime to protect the route and the riders from cars and creepers. An army of volunteers take care of everything from first-aid to porta-potties. Even though the route is kept a secret until the ride begins the whole city finds the streets we ride down to cheer us along. It’s a storm of body-painted butts, flashy costumes, laser lights, loud thumping music, and miles of bike bells ringing together in protest.
It’s so much fun that people overlook the point of the protest. There are three main points made when we ride naked through the streets: Freedom From Fossil Fuel, Body Positivity, and Safe Roads.
Safe Roads: The naked truth about human vulnerability to unsafe roads and reckless driving becomes very clear when you see fragile flesh bumping down a potholed avenue normally dominated by stressed out drivers who pay more attention to their phones than to the people they are sharing the road with.
Freedom From Fossil Fuel: Fuck Oil Wars! Seriously, the self-destructive system of world domination is all about securing the oil supply. Ride a bike and you no longer demand the oil supply.
Body Positivity: Blorpy, buff, saggy, skinny, hairy legs, shaved balls, and goofy smiles are all celebrated in this honored & diverse body parade. We see our outter-differences and we see the inner-similarities. There is no shame. There is also no pressure to get completely naked. Riders are welcomed to go as bare as they dare.
The first time I rode in the protest I did it alone. I mean, sure I was riding with thousands of people, but I left home alone and didn’t make plans to meet up with friends there. Going solo helped me feel more anonymous and free from being judged by friends and family. I didn’t wear my glasses, so even if people I knew saw me, I didn’t see them. I was naked rolling through streets I commute on daily as the fresh evening air tickled my short hairs. It was the biggest thrill I’ve ever had in a city. At the end of the hour-long ride a naked dance party broke out under the Hawthorne bridge. We danced hard and got crazy sweaty. It was packed and slippery bodies of all shapes and sizes bumped and jumped together. It got too crowded, so I stepped away and walked down the dock to find a small party of riders skinny dipping. I found a spot of my own and jumped in. The Willamette river has never felt that refreshing!
Drip drying on the ride home I felt really alone. This amazing thing happened, but I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Then a lady screamed super loud, scared for her life, “AAAAAWWWW!!!”. I looked up the bike lane and caught a glimpse of her narrowly clearing a car door that was recklessly swung open from a parked car. I asked if she was ok, and she was, but she was very spooked. Getting doored wearing only a helmet would really fuck you up! We rode on together and talked about how cool the ride was. We talked about body diversity and she pointed to her three nipples. I laughed about how those three nipples must never feel alone. They’re always together.
We may not all have three nipples, but we have each other. Let’s wake up and see what this protest is really about: togetherness.