Thousands of naked people on bikes will ride through downtown Philadelphia on August 28 to participate in the Philly Naked Bike Ride. The bikers will complete a ten-mile loop around the city,weaving through famous landmarks such as City Hall, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps. Face masks are required.
Last year’s naked ride was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic so organizers are hoping for a good turnout in 2021. Anyone can participate, including skateboarders rollerbladers. An important goal for the event is to promote cycling, using less fuel and promoting positive self-image, according to NPR.
The Naked Bike Ride is not illegal as Pennsylvania’s indecent exposure laws can be interpreted in various ways.
“I’ve heard commentary from people that haven’t done the ride that they perceive it to be a very sexualized event, and people who have actually done the ride know it’s quite the opposite,” said Maria Serrahima to NPR. “People have time to mingle, make new friends, admire each other’s creativity and body paint or whatever costumes they showed up in.”
Volunteers from cycling groups prepare the route by blocking off streets ahead of the riders. They also ride at the front and back of the riders to keep everyone together as they go through the city.
“I hope people feel like they’re a part of something larger, that they’re a part of larger community. And that demonstrates just how many people are out on the streets riding bikes,” said Wesley Noonan-Sessa, lead facilitator told NPR.
The Philly Naked Bike Ride is one of many in the World Naked Bike Ride movement. The first naked bike ride was in June, 2004, when two organizations coincidentally had nude cyclists protesting oil dependency: the Artists for Peace in Canada and the Manifestacion Ciclonudista in Spain. Despite having virtually identical messages and strategies neither group knew of the existence of the other.
Many riders paint themselves or wear hats and costumes. Carrying clothes is encouraged for the occasional bathroom stop. The ride is slow paced and not considered a race.
Individuals with all levels of cycling experience are encouraged to participate and the event is free. The starting location will be announced 24 hours before the ride begins. Between 2,000 to 3,500 riders participate, according to the Philly Naked Bike Ride website.
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