Byron Bay residents and visitors happily bared all recently in an event to raise awareness about the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.
The event was part of the World Naked Bike Ride in March 2012, which highlights the dangers that cyclists face in traffic. The first local ride in Byron was in 2008 and it has since evolved to represent a wider range of social and political issues, including the environmental effects of pollution, and the negative implications of oil dependence and non-sustainable energy sources.
When asked about the event, organiser Sol Minnin emphasised universal human values. He said, “Being naked reminds us that we’re human. It makes us common … When we take our clothes off we’re all the same.”
The event promotes a positive community vibe. Sol said that seeing people riding naked down the main street of Byron Bay is a fun spectacle which makes people happy. And indeed, a loud cheer of appreciation went up as the group pedalled past Byron’s iconic Great Northern Hotel.
The police were not so amused. They issued a long list of official rules, and even stipulated that all genitals had to be covered with body paint!
The event is also held in the nearby town of Nimbin which sees a higher percentage of female participants. Of the 30 or so participants in the Byron event, only two were women. One young male rider jokingly called it a “sausage-fest.” When it comes to being nude in Nimbin it seems like the ladies are more daring.
The official motivation for the event is to show the vulnerability of cyclists on the road by paralleling this with the vulnerability people feel when exposing their naked bodies. But as all naturists know, nakedness can provide a beautiful sense of freedom, openness, and a strong connection to the rest of the natural world, rather than a feeling of vulnerability. These are deeper desires that many people could fulfil through the celebration of their natural body. But sadly they fail to because of social conditioning and stigma.
When questioned about their motives, several participants simply stated that it was ‘just a good excuse to get naked’, with one rider travelling from as far as Brisbane to take part for this reason. It seems there may be a little bit of naturism in us all!
For more information on the annual worldwide event go to http://www.worldnakedbikeride.org
© July 2012