Conceived a decade ago in Vancouver as a peaceful protest against oil dependency and pollution, the World Naked Bike Ride quickly spread to 28 cities and has been growing ever since.
Co-organizer Gene Dare says the ride has always been a protest against car culture, with an added appreciation of nudity thrown in.
“There’s body image, body acceptance, nudity; that’s the secondary part of the ride,” he says. “The primary has always been a protest against car culture, and the reason it has to be a protest is because during a protest is the only time we can be 100 percent nude.”
The Naked Bike Ride still draws thousands of riders annually, from Toronto to Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, Ottawa, London, UK and other cities around the world.
Last year, Toronto’s ride drew about 140 riders, says Dare, who also photographs the event. “I remember turning around and taking one shot, and I couldn’t see the end of us. So that means we had to be over a kilometre long.”
This year, he’s hoping more than 250 people will turn out to celebrate the ride’s 10th anniversary in Toronto.
Dare understands that some people are hesitant to strip down and hop on a bike. Fear of public nudity is something that’s ingrained from birth, he says.
But, he says, reactions to the riders normally range from bemusement — the most routine comment being “Is that legal?” — to raucous support.