The message behind the Naked Bike Ride

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Saturday, thousands of Portlanders are set to take off on the annual Portland World Naked Bike Ride.

While many of the cyclists are participating in the well-publicized event for fun, others are there with a message.

The idea of a naked bike ride originally came about as a protest against dependency on fossil fuels.

The homepage of the World Naked Bike Ride reads: “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.”

Portland has been participating since 2004, when the movement first took off.

The world organization urges local rides to highlight local concerns. In Portland, this means continuing the message of less dependence on fossil fuels, but also focusing on positive body image and safety for cyclists.

“The one thing that distinguishes our ride, that we are championing, is positive body image. We want people to feel good in their body, to have fun in their body. That’s one of the things we’re concerned with. We want people to feel like they can have fun in their body and have a great time with each other. Our ride is anti-body shaming,” Stephen Upchurch, one of the ride organizers, told KOIN 6 News.

“We have a dress code: As Bare As You Dare. We are very serious about that. We want people to feel safe and comfortable. There is no need to be entirely naked… if you want to be, we would love it, but if you want to put on some lingerie or whatever or a sexy outfit or some body paint, we have all kinds of costumes. We want people to do what they want to do,” Upchurch says.

Safety for cyclists is also a big part of the ride. The organizers are reminding people that cyclists are vulnerable on Portland’s roads.

“The naked part is an analogy for the vulnerability of cyclists. When your naked you are most vulnerable, and when you aren’t in a metal box (a car) you are more vulnerable,” Upchurch says.

Upchurch says that while other cities hold Naked Bike Rides, there is no hierarchical system and very little coordination. He says each city takes on their own coordination and are inspired by each other’s messages.

“You know, we really could organize this to death,” Upchurch says. “But really it’s the people of Portland that show up for fun.”

The organizers do want to remind riders about the message behind the movement, and on Saturday will be passing out stickers with slogans for safe roads, positive body image and less dependency on oil.The annual Portland World Naked Bike Ride will take place at 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. The ride leaves from Colonel Summers Park. Riders should gather at 8 p.m. The ride is not disclosed beforehand. Organizers wish to remind riders to stay hydrated and encourage people to wear shoes and a helmet. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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