Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride Event Plagued By Accidents And Alcohol Use

Portland, Oregon is a major bicycle city. And accordingly, Portland’s version of the World Naked Bike Ride was a major event with an estimated several thousand riders as well as support from Portland’s Mayor Sam Adams and escort help from Portland’s motorcycle police. The event was supposed to send several messages including one of environmentalism and an opposition to oil, however the event was plagued with a number of accidents and alcohol use by riders. A number of businesses reported brisk alcohol purchases by persons who said that they intended to ride in the event. Merchants warned bicyclists to ride safely and not to use alcohol before the ride. However, such alcohol sales are legal as long as the person is of legal age and not intoxicated at the time of purchase. However, riding a bicycle intoxicated is an offense under the law in Oregon and most other places these days. In some places, such as New Zealand, the World Naked Bike Ride had to be canceled before because of growing problems with riders riding under the influence of alcohol and involved in crashes.

Several factors may have contributed to the number of accidents this year, some of which required ambulances due to serious injuries. Many of the riders ride pretty fast, and many are too closely grouped in packs as this is a sort of parade event. And the use of alcohol by some riders adds another threat. In addition, some riders dropped their helmets or other items during the ride, but could not safely stop to get the item, creating a hazard. This year, within just a few blocks of Hawthorne Avenue, one big crash took place near the Bagdad Theater around 37th, and another serious crash involving an ambulance took place only a few blocks away near S.E. 24th and Hawthorne. Some riders also did dangerous stunts on their bikes such as standing up or other acts of “hot dogging” meant to show off.

One ambulance driver had to repeatedly warn bicyclists to slow down as the crew responded to the crash near S.E. 24th, yet many riders just continued to whiz by at a good clip of speed, creating additional risk for the ambulance crew as well as the injured riders.

Increased accidents and alcohol use by the riders could force a few new safety rules for future events of this type, such as more spacing between riders, less stunts while riding, and refraining from all alcohol use until after the ride is over. Bicycle riders could learn a few tips from motorcyclists who rarely have crashes during their numerous ride events. Maintaining a safe distance from other riders and riding at a comfortable, but safe speed in case emergency braking is needed, as well as refraining from alcohol use during the ride are important factors in safe motorcycle ride events.

The organizers of the event need to take a long look at the safety issues involved with this event and do a much better job educating their ride participants on safer operation of bicycles to reduce the likelihood of accidents. What was mostly a fun event for most riders, didn’t need to end in serious injuries to a few riders. An event that was supposed to somehow promote bicycles in a positive light instead reflected poorly on the shortcomings of some bicyclists as operators instead.

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  • Fun times bad article.

     So this is a slew of nonsense. Yes there were a few accidents, people were drinking and not everyone new bike space safety. But what this article really fails to mention is the good times had, the awareness that was raised, and well, anything good about the ride. The promoters did do what they could to stop alcohol consumption, and did everything in there power to promote safety.

  • Paul Hooson

    Hello, Fun Times Bad Article. Certainly for the huge number of persons  who participated the event was a fun huge success. But, by any other standard applied to other parades or even motorcycle rides, this bicycle ride had way too many problems to be acceptable. Yesterday, persons from another business located at near 31st reported yet anotther accident when a female rider suddenly made a U-turn causing other riders to plow into her. That’s three accidents just between 24th and about 36th Avemue along Hawthorne. That’s more than enough to warrant safer riding conditions for next years event. No one should get hurt in an event of this type. Safer riding conditions could reduce the number of accidents to zero.

  • fogues

    Most inaccurate title ever.  If you only read this article as an account of the PDX WNBR, you are only perpetuating the fear-mongering of the “Nanny State” mentality which runs rampant right now.

  • Bob

    The Police Chief in Portland indicated that he saw no one riding drunk (he was monitoring the whole event with 70 other officers), and that there was not a problem with alchohol This article is fabricated. There were no arrests during this event.

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