Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride was huge success on Saturday night drawing a crowd of thousands of riders and a large number of onlookers to cheer on and support the riders on the same day that Portland had it’s annual Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade which also drew huge crowds. Although the exact route the bicycle event takes each year is not published and something of a last minute surprise, this year’s event took place in NorthEast Portland at Normandale Park at 56th and Halsey. This was more controversial than usual because the family park is popular for kid’s softball league games and other family events. But, neighbors made the best of it, with some young women wearing bikini tops or even one neighbor who appeared to walk outside naked that lived across from the park to offer moral support to the riders. One neighbor even set up a drink stand in their front yard to sell lemonade drinks while a neighborhood bar with outside seating looked more busy than usual. There were some concerns that this NorthEast Portland neighborhood might be more socially conservative than more socially liberal SouthEast Portland where the bike ride usually takes place. But, neighbors seemed very supportive and turned out in strong numbers to support the riders.
Both onlookers as well as bike riders were in a festive mood and appeared happy and full of fun. Bike riders started the ride slowly from the park which seemed much safer than some past years where too fast of a ride might have resulted in some pile-up accidents in previous years. There was no sign of public drinking either, which had caused problems in some other countries such as Australia before. Riders seemed very responsible this year, more conscious of safety than some previous years, determined to have a safe good time and to only bring good publicity to the event as critics this year looked for some reasons to prevent next year’s event if problems took place this year. If anything, it looked like neighbors of Normandale Park actually enjoyed this ride just as much as the riders.
Even Portland Police officers who are part of the motorcycle traffic patrol were in a good mood, as one good natured police officer won over the crowd when he told them that there “was nothing to see here”, as the officers prepared to move on and protect the riders safety through intersections as they traveled up towards Sandy Blvd. towards a location that might end somewhere on Mississippi Street in NorthEast Portland according to one possible report.
Organizers of the event had to be very pleased at the turnout which included more women this year than past years, as well better attention to rider safety, avoiding the problems such as alcohol abuse among the riders that got the event banned in some other world cities.
Police stated before the event that any Portland ban on public nudity would not be enforced because this event was seen as one part of a political protest event against air pollution and automobiles and deserved to have constitutional protection, and any offended neighbors should simply close their blinds and watch TV or a movie and ignore the event.