Portland Oregon’s version of the 2012 World Nude Bike Ride was a huge success this past Saturday night, with an estimated 13,000 riders this year. This was far and away larger than any previous year. In addition, the event was far safer this year, with bicycles stretched out for a much larger and longer parade than in previous years, along with slightly slower speeds, where a handful of persons could even walk the event topless or in the nude, and yet were able to mostly keep up with the main group. All of this contributed to far less accidents than in the past where only one accident at the sharp corner of 12th and Hawthorne was reported. The last two years, Hawthorne had several accidents by comparison, resulting in ambulance calls in some cases.
Even though a few persons attempted some dangerous looking bicycle skills stunts, such as no hands riding or standing up on their bikes, or even riding backward into the flow of other bicycles, the longer parade length and less dense grouping of riders prevented such stunts from resulting in accidents with other bicyclists.
Last year, Wizbang Pop took a little heat from some when it called for slower speeds, less alcohol use and less dense packing of bicyclists on the public streets to improve the safety of what’s supposed to be a fun event. One police spokesman claimed that there wasn’t any serious alcohol issues, although some examples of public drinking or intoxication were observed by some persons. However, this year, for whatever reason, the safety recommendations of Wizbang Pop all seemed to work to improve the safety of the event, making it far safer and more fun for everyone. Larger than usual audiences collected along streets to observe or cheer on the bicyclists. Some people even left their homes in the nude to watch the parade as well. Police also did a fine job, stopping vehicle traffic on the streets, making the event safer. Two years ago, a new black BMW pulled onto Hawthorne, plowing head-on into a group of bicyclists injuring several. But, a stronger police presence prevented accidents such as this this year.
One especially comic moment came when a confident nude young male bicyclist saw a young woman he liked in the crowd watching along Hawthorne Street and rode up to her to meet her. She laughed, and they had good conversation and hugged. It was both funny and sweet. A whole new way to pick up girls.
The amount of female participation in the event continued to grow this year, however many women still prefer to go topless rather than totally nude, whereas most men were completely nude for the event. Strangely, many of the nude young women seemed to still be sporting full pubic hair, which is far less common these days. One male rider did use lights to highlight his genitals, but no lewd activity by any rider was observed. Strangely, the nudity seemed like an acceptable social norm much like some tribal nudity among some South American native Indians, where breasts and other body parts hanging out seemed like an acceptable manner of dress not especially sexual in nature. American society could probably tolerate public toplessness or other nudity without any problems, if those in religion or government would allow it. However, some society’s such as Hawaii had toplessness virtually abolished by missionaries to the islands. The nudity from the bike ride seemed like harmless fun.
Overall, it can said that Portland’s version of 2012 Worldwide Naked Bike Ride was a huge success, sharply growing from the estimated 170 riders in 2005. It can now be considered to be a major parade event for the city. At one time the event started as a safety awareness political protest where riders rode nude to illustrate how vulnerable they are to cars or to injury from riding in traffic, and to highlight the need for greater bicycle safety. However, the event now has outgrown that largely becoming a huge fun event each year.