Life in Portland Blog

Are They Going to Make Me Ride My Bike Naked? An Undercover Look at Portland’s Most Notorious Public Event

It’s That Time of Year: Time to Get Naked

Portland, Oregon may not be the world’s sunniest city, but when the sun comes out after a long, gray Cascadia winter, Rose City residents take full advantage of the sun’s rays. You might even say we value the sun more than most. To San Diego residents, sunshine is an everyday occurrence, but we Portlanders sometimes go months at a time without feeling the heat of the sun on our anxious skin.

If you live in Portland, then you’ve probably noticed the change in the air. When the Rhododendrons start to bloom and the clouds burn away, Portlanders put their summer wardrobes to use almost immediately, even if the temperature is still rather crisp.

And sometimes the Portland summer wardrobe means wearing nothing at all. Case in point: Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride.

Hey PDX – Why Bike Naked?

According to the official mission statement, the World Naked Bike Ride’s mission is to “…highlight the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decry society’s dependence on pollution-based transport.”

But let’s be honest: it’s also an awful lot of fun. When else can you ride free through your favorite city, accompanied by friends and neighbors in their birthday suits? What a feeling!

As Bare as You Dare in Portland

One question that often comes up for first-time participants is, “How naked do I have to be?” Well, the truth is, that’s completely up to you. Participants have been known to ride in their underwear or go topless, bottomless, or completely naked except for a Viking helmet, body paint, and a cape. Obviously.

If you do decide to ride with a cape, just make sure it’s a short one. You don’t want it getting caught in your spokes.

The bottom line is this: nobody’s going to “make” you get any more naked than you’re comfortable with, because that would be crazy and also, totally illegal. Speaking of which…

How the Heck Is the PDX World Naked Bike Ride Legal?

As a protest, the World Naked Bike is protected under Oregon’s constitution. However, it’s important to remember that this event, while sexy, isn’t a sexual event. Lewd behavior can and will land your naked butt in the back of a police car. If you’re feeling randy, then please save it for after the event.

History of the World Naked Bike Ride

The first World Naked Bike Ride took place in 2004, but there were lots of organizations organizing naked bike rides before that. Groups such as the Fremont Riders, Ciclonudista, Freie Körper Kultur, and Artists Against War were pedaling through Washington, Germany, Spain, and Canada.

But 2004 was the first time these events were all united under a common banner. Since then, both participation and the number of organized events have increased dramatically. Just last year, Portland’s WNBR estimated more than 8,000 participants, nearly double the ridership from previous years. Now that’s what we call a critical mass!

Naked Cycling for the World Traveler

So what if you want to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride, but you won’t be in Portland on June 25th? Well, you may be able to find a ride near you. From Australia to Venezuela and just about everywhere alphabetically in-between, WNBR events take place all over the globe.

Have Fun, Be Safe, Ride Naked (or Almost Naked)

Just to make sure you have the best possible experience, here are a few tips for riding in the buff:

●      Ride your bike to the starting location. Driving is a serious faux pas

●      Stay clothed until you get to the starting point

●      Save the boozing for after the event; riding drunk is dumb, riding drunk and naked is really, really dumb

●      We’re sure you’d never be creepy, but if you see anyone making other riders uncomfortable, report them to a volunteer

●      No cameras at the start or end point.

●      High fives are strongly encouraged

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you there!