World Naked Bike Ride - London section
By Robert & Roger
We met last mid winter & talked, “Do you know there’s a Naked Cycle ride demonstration through London in the summer?” and, “Would you be interested in doing it?” “Sure thing!”
We met at Waterloo station next june, and after a coffee and chat cycled to Wellington Arch for the start. We got there far too early. People started to arrive in dribs & drabs; one a punk wearing a bicycle chain , others wore wigs or pained slogans on there backs or total body paint of every description.
The political element of the demonstration was to promote the use of the bike & thus save on the oil pollution of the car; also we demonstrated the ‘vulnerability’ (by being naked) of the cyclist in London where about 20 are killed each year.
The self-policing photo policy worked well. Though in a public area (before the run general shots were ok but close ups were with permission only. Where there was objection, the ‘over keen photographer was well outnumbered; one only had to protest to him loudly for him to slink away.
By about 2:45 hundreds of people had turned up, by 3:00 people were stripping off. The ride was planned for 3:30. By 3:25 we were lined up under Wellington Arch ready for the off. At 3:35 we were still there. We waited and waited: a message came through from the police “Clear the road” - horsemen were coming through from the Trooping the Colour rehearsals. What an unusual audience the had cheering as they went through the arch. We finally started at 3:45 ish.
The cycling speed was walking pace all the way (six miles). We were escorted by approximately twenty policemen/women on bicycles (all overdressed poor things - it was 30˚ centigrade). They stopped the traffic for us and kept the snake of 600 riders together. We passed the Houses of Parliament, went down Oxford Street, through Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. The ride lasted about 1.5 hours. we caused great excitement, merriment and wonderment in all who saw us as they poured out of the Oxford Street shops or pubs as the fans left for the street after cheering England to victory (one fan satisfied a need to participate by fetching a great slap of Roger’s nearside buttock as he cycled by). Tourists got an aerial view from the many bridges of open topped busses (horns sounding). Our numbers swelled as we progressed (cyclists seeing the great fun we were having - stripped off on the road side to join us). We were near to 800 at the finish.
Very roughly the ratio was about 60% men - 40% women. There were tricycles and rickshaws and one electric bike. If you preferred you could roller skate. It’s a memorable experience cycling naked - with bare roller-bladers zipping past you between bikes or up and down on pavement - perhaps handing out leaflets or a stunned crowd.
There was fun and good humour from onlookers the entire route, some couldn't believe their eyes, others cracking out laughing, still others congratulating us, We participants found it very enjoyable and intend to take part again next year. See you there!!!