World Naked Bike Ride

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to photograph Saturday’s World Naked Bike Ride in London again. I wrote at some length last year about its ‘photography’ policy and my objections to it – it seems to be a blatant attack on the freedom of the press in particular and on individual freedoms at a time when both are under considerable fire from the law and order fascists. I won’t repeat myself – it’s still on line. But if you take part in a public event and want to hide your identity or blushes, as  I’ve said before, the answer is simple:

don’t shoot the photographer; wear a mask.

I also wrote a shorter piece about news values and nakedness after last year’s ride. There is a paragraph I rather like in it, so here it is – though you can of course use the link to read the rest.

10,000 marching for Palestine. Perhaps 3,000 Orangemen and women. A thousand or so naked or near naked cyclists. No contest, not even for the BBC. When I switched on Radio 4 for the 10 o’clock news there was only one London event. And there was no one there wearing a burkha.

Definitely not a burkha, but she made me think of both of my comments from last year.

But the World Naked Bike Ride is in several ways an interesting event, although as in previous years while bodies are very much on display environmental messages seemed at times to be rather well-hidden, leaving many of the public along the route bemused.

The two young women standing next to me at the start weren’t commenting on the state of the planet or the strangulating grip of car culture but that they had never seen so many penises before, and they were certainly glorious in their diversity. We speculated together briefly on whether the ride showed a greater proportion of circumcision than among the general public and if so why that should be and other major penis-related issues.

Later I was in the middle of a group of young men who loudly expressed the view that the whole event was “f**king out of order, innit” and that it should not be allowed, but most of the people standing around me as I photographed seemed startled but generally amused by the ride, even if few realised what it was about.

According to the web site, it is a “peaceful, imaginative and fun protest against oil dependency and car culture. A celebration of the bicycle and also a celebration of the power and individuality of the human body. A symbol of the vulnerability of the cyclist in traffic.”

I don’t know how many cyclists took part – it seemed roughly the same size as in previous years, and my guess would be a thousand or two. Of course it wasn’t just cyclists, there were some skateboards and roller blades, and some odd sort of curved metal thing. Surprisingly only two unicyclists – you have to be an exhibitionist to ride a unicycle, so I’d expect rather more. (Perhaps they are all away in Nova Scotia keeping most of their clothes on and ‘Riding the Lobster‘ along with one of my sons?) One of them was riding with the slogan “One Love, One Wheel” on his chest.

Cyclists take up quite a bit of road space compared to marchers, so it is certainly more impressive than a march with the same number of people, and of course the bared flesh greatly adds to the impact.

More pictures on My London Diary, though as always only a fairly small fraction of those I took. If you were on the ride and would like your picture (if I took one) email me and I’ll send one if I can.

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