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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World Naked Bike Ride Offers the Chance to Get Off Your (Bare) Butt and Make a Statement

Posted on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 5:00 PM

San Francisco is overflowing with fierce opinions about The Way Things Ought to Be. Problem is, too many of us think it's enough to buy a bumper sticker that tells the world - which is to say, a small segment of the driving world - the truths we hold self-evident and leave it there. Maybe you've seen one of our favorites: "Question Authority!" proclaimed the six-cylinder BMW 5 Series with leather interior. Hypocrisy in motion? Literally. What we need instead is a real act of protest, in this case against the oil industry and a complacent car-centric culture. It should be risky, but it should also have a sense of humor. Here's one: the World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday.

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Nudity is not required, but it's encouraged -- along with body paint, signs, and costumery that furthers the message of the ride. Organizers determine the route as the riders assemble, but they say likely destinations include the Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, and United Nations Plaza. Even though being naked in public is (to our understanding) mostly illegal, organizers say riders in the buff probably won't be arrested as long as they stay with the group.
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San Francisco has two naked bike rides per year, this being the first. Last year the spring ride got only 12 riders, says organizer Jeff Wheeler, but as of Tuesday 47 people had confirmed via Facebook and another 62 had said maybe. Wheeler aims to add another naked ride, this on on Earth Day, April 22. He believes he could get more people to shed their clothes and pedal about and also coordinate with other events. Wheeler says the ride lasts about four hours, and oftentimes it picks up people along the way. Last year, for example, he said several women took off their shirts and rode with the pack for a few miles before going their own way. He's looking for a place for a sort of after-party where riders can converge and not have to worry about remaining in the buff. He points out that nudists have gained a foothold in the Castro, so he has hope.

To get to the ride's staring point, Wheeler and other organizers encourage people to use public transportation (fully clothed, in this case) -- no matter if that BMW 5 Series includes a really really cool bike rack.

The World Naked Bike Ride starts at 11 a.m. in Justin Herman Plaza. Admission is free.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF

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