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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

World Naked Bike Ride in Notts

29 May 19 words: Alex Kuster

Well, I don't know what you'd had planned for this weekend. But you know what they say: "sun's out, bun's out". If you want to that that to a whole new level (and anyone who knows me knows what a promoter of public nudity I indeed am) then why not grab your bike and shed your garms. It might sound mental, but I can assure you that there is more behind World Naked Bike Ride than meets the eye. I sat down with, David Lally, the man who brought the event to Nottingham to get the naked truth...

So David, tell me a bit about what World Naked Bike Ride entails...
The WNBR began in 2002  a cycling event with the initial premise of “Protesting oil dependency” and promoting cycling and the safety of cycling as against the prevailing car culture.  Nearly two thirds of non-cyclists believe that is too dangerous for them to cycle.

Rides now take place each year in over 80 cities around the world. This year there are 12 planned in the UK.

It is a mass protest ride along open streets, unlike organised Event rides where street are closed to traffic (e.g. The HSBC Go-ride). They are self-organised and do not get, and do not seek, corporate sponsorship.

Where does nudity come into it all?
Being naked increases the impact of the ride, but more importantly nudity demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists who have no real protection when expected to ride alongside solid motor vehicles that enclose and surround drivers  with every conceivable safety feature to protect them from injury.  

3,500 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on UK roads in 2016.  The WNBRs have a motto: “See us when we’re NOT naked!” aimed at every driver but especially those who even fail to see the fluorescent clothing cyclists are told to wear.  One of the most common excuses given by drivers who have killed a cyclist is “I didn’t see them”, and the rise in distractions with numerous gadgets in vehicles, has added to the failure of motorists to pay full attention to the roads at all times.

The WNBR is not a naturist event, Less than 50% of participants are naturists – tan lines are a giveaway. Nudity is not a requirement, the motto is “as bare as you dare” and costumes and or body paints are equally welcome. Neither is it an excuse for streaking or flashing on a bike. It’s a serious protest with several serious messages. Organisers totally discourage any exhibitionists seeking an opportunity to draw attention to themselves and say "miscreants will be ejected from the ride".  

The main point of the nudity is that as a group of individuals we ride together in unity, not as individuals. Whatever our age, body condition or gender we are all vulnerable bodies – flesh, blood and bones.

How did you manage to get the event to come to Nottingham? 
I answered a “shout-out” by a group of WNBR organisers looking to add to the rides taking place in the UK.  I’m a regular participant in the Nottingham Critical Mass rides and was active in organising the two Nottingham Space for Cycling rides that took place in June 2015 and April 2017.  

Having ridden in both the London and Brighton WNBRs a number of times it’s been encouraging to see the positive way in which the public react to the rides. Hopefully they go away with an impression of the aims of the protest, they certainly seem on the whole to appreciate that cycling can be, no IS, fun and that caring for the earth is joyous not depressing.

I have in the past considered attempting to get a Nottingham WNBR going and this gave the opportunity to do so, so I offered my help.

The main point of the nudity is that as a group of individuals we ride together in unity, not as individuals. Whatever our age, body condition or gender we are all vulnerable bodies – flesh, blood and bones.

Is Nottingham a forward thinking city in terms of cycling? 
Yes, and that is the problem. The councils in the area seem to be quite good at “forward thinking” about cycling, but not so good at doing things to actually encourage it. Lip service is paid and boxes are ticked. Yet still, there is no solid plan to produce a convenient and safe network of cycling infrastructure.  

Look at the Broadmarsh redevelopment. This has been years in the planning and a major piece of cycling infrastructure ends there. Yet there is still no detailed idea of how someone riding a bike in into or out of the city along Castle Boulevard “superhighway” will get to and from the city centre quickly and safely.

The route planning for the WNBR has highlighted this. A fellow planner, who has mapped-out quite a few WNBR routes from Portsmouth to Canterbury and more, said that Nottingham has been his greatest challenge.

What could be done better to promote cycling in the city? 
Getting across that it’s a normal everyday thing to do, and the most efficient method of transport we have. it is not hard - its easy(see below).  Councils still seem to think that they promote cycling by bringing high profile bike races to the area or having events featuring 120 mile challenge rides. They should promote cycling by giving everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond the means to do it and feel safe doing it without thinking that they need to be Chris Wiggins or Bradley Froome.

They need to actively explain that expenditure on cycle infrastructure is not for “cyclists” - they are already on their bikes.  It’s for everyone stuck in traffic, producing levels of pollution that kill them and everyone else, wasting energy (unless there’s a fully occupied or laden vehicle), occupying space and land with roads and parking places that could be used productively. To give them an better alternative that they feel able to take, which, by the way, will help them with their fitness and save the NHS millions on treatments of ailments caused by an inactive lifestyle.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Cycling a mile expends the same amount of energy as walking a mile, you just do it about 4 times quicker. You don’t need any special clothes, just sensible ones (or none in the case of WNBR) You don't need an expensive bike. If you ride sensibly you don’t need to change and shower when you get to work. Most importantly you don’t need the car to nip out to the shops or into town for show or a film, just hop on your bike.

For perhaps the best summary of all we are saying just watch this little piece by Chris Boardman, I think taken from a program covering a bike race:

The ride takes place Saturday June 1st from 1pm. To join in or read more information visit their Facebook page.

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