Picture this: You’re taking your daily stroll through your neighborhood on a beautiful Portland summer evening when you hear the deafening sounds of music, laughter, shouting, bells, horns and the relentless whirring of bicycle chains approaching. Suddenly, a sea of flesh and metal whirls past you: hundreds upon hundreds of naked people pedaling casually by, determined to meet the finish line. The air is suddenly filled with excitement and you can’t help but sit and watch as the World Naked Bike Ride takes place right before your eyes. Priceless.
Portland has hosted the largest naked bike ride in the world for a few years now, but 2015 tops it all, with over 7,000 individuals registered to participate on the official WNBR Facebook page alone. That of course doesn’t factor in the hundreds if not thousands that didn’t bother to do so, making a more realistic estimate closer to 10,000 enthusiasts of all ages and body shapes zooming down the streets on bicycles, foot, skateboards, unicycles, wheelchairs and anything that doesn’t require an engine to run. After all, that is what it’s all about. The ride isn’t merely some excuse to show your goods in public (although that’s certainly a selling point,) but more importantly; it’s a protest. The aim is to bring awareness to cycling safety, pollution reduction and also to promote body positivity.
Truthfully, the protest is extremely successful in these regards, especially when it comes to the latter. The ride makes it possible for thousands of people to show off their bodies, no matter what it might look like, and it’s easy to see that participants loved every minute of the exposure. The environment is extremely welcoming, everyone is excited and enthusiastic, always respectful and friendly. You can count on several people’s help if an accident or issue arises, giving you peace of mind as you follow the crowd.
The event also gives people the initiative to use a mode of transportation that doesn’t require an engine and environmentally harmful fossil fuels to run. Idealistically, the world would be run by a bunch of loving, confident, aware, environmentally-conscious, respectful people if it were up to the WNBR. Doesn’t sound too bad, eh? Additionally, the ride aims to expose the vulnerability that bicyclist and pedestrians face on the road. Although Portland is a relatively safe city to walk or cycle in, there is not much that can be done about the growing populus and increasing number of vehicles overrunning the streets. Nor the associated overwhelming possibility that some drivers can be neither aware or respectful of our rights on the road – as indicated by the rising number of cyclists and pedestrians injured or killed by automobiles each year.
This year’s ride was an outstanding success, with its largest turnout ever. The ride started at SE Portland’s Colonel Summers Park and ended at the Waterfront, where people chose to stick around and enjoy the festivities several hours after the ride was over. If you haven’t at least sauntered out to watch the protest take place, you may want to take advantage next year, it’s quite the spectacle. Or better yet, why not strip off those stifling clothes and join the thousands taking to the streets? We promise it’ll be well worth the workout.
Below, click through our gallery of Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride 2015. Photos by Drew Bandy.