by Marcus Leach
It will not just be those lucky enough to have Glastonbury tickets who will be hoping for plenty of sunshine in June, but thousands of nude cyclists as well.
The World Naked Bike Ride returns to the UK in June with ten rides already confirmed. Now taking place in more than 74 cities across 17 countries, the main aims of the ride are to promote cycling, advocate the power of the human body and protest against oil dependency.
"The World Naked Bike Ride is a novel way of calling attention to the planets problems with a particularly powerful message against our increasing dependency on oil and the car culture that leaves cyclists so vulnerable," Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, said.
"It’s vital that we all cut down on our oil usage and make changes to our lifestyle. By ditching the car for a bike or public transport we can all make a real difference.
"With the Metropolitan Police in London being so accommodating this year the World Naked Bike Ride 2006 looks set to be an even greater success than last year."
However, not not every city has seen the rides in such good spirits. In the past Devon and Cornwall Police have said they respected the campaigners right to protest, but hoped common sense and respect would prevail and people would be sensible about their level of nudity.
Complete nudity, they said, was not acceptable, and officers would be obliged to uphold the law if complaints from the public were received.
"The threat of arrest is bizarre. Like neighbouring London, Brighton is supposed to be a cosmopolitan, forward-thinking city. However, it seems the attitude of the authorities here is still that of a provincial, prudish backwater," Nick Sayers, WNBR Brighton & Hove rider/coordinator, said.
"The threat of arrest under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 is unfair, and possibly unlawful, given that the intention of riders is not to 'harass, alarm or distress', as stated in the act. Public nudity of this sort is permitted under the Exposure section of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which replaced the outdated 'indecent exposure' laws.
"We're bombarded in daily life with sexual images of scantily-clad, 'perfect' bodies. In contrast, WNBR is intended as a non-sexual celebration of the human body. The insistence that we cover up with underwear and swimming costumes, far from de-sexualising the ride, will make it more so.
"We sense that the police are using the Public Order Act as a catch-all to neuter this protest, despite the fact that it barely applies and would be unlikely to result in convictions. The worldwide rides mostly consist of naked smiling cyclists, and have never resulted in wide-scale panic or the downfall of civil order. Prudes can look away if they're so easily offended.
"The thousands of people who witnessed the ride in London last year were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, supportive and entertained. Only one complaint was received by the Metropolitan Police after the ride."
Naked Bike Rides in June and July
Hastings: 1st June
Manchester: 6th June
Bristol: 7th June
Brighton: 8th June
Cardiff: 14th June
London: 14th June
York: 20th June
Exeter: 28th June
Folkestone: 5th July
Clacton: 19th July
Photo copyright (c) Alexis Maryon 2008