Thousands ride naked through Portland streets

One woman wore a unicorn helmet -- and nothing else

Thousands turned out for the 2016 Naked Bike Ride in Portland. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Saturday, more than 10,000 riders hit the streets of Portland for the annual Portland World Naked Bike Ride.

Portland has been participating since 2004, when the movement first took off. Organizer Stephen Upchurch says the reason for the ride is simple — “It’s a protest against our society’s dependency on fossil fuels,” he said.

While it is a protest, for many it’s also a chance to show some skin and get creative.

Thousands turned out for the 2016 Naked Bike Ride in Portland. (KOIN)
Thousands turned out for the 2016 Naked Bike Ride in Portland. (KOIN)

“I mean, how many chances do you have to be on TV naked?” said Justin Mayers. “This is really fun.”

The homepage of the World Naked Bike Ride reads: “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.”

Fifth-year rider Ralyn Miller loves watching the community reaction.

“People are so supportive, smiling,” Miller said. “It actually delights the city.”

This year’s ride did not disappoint, with thousands drawn to the starting point at Mt. Scott Park, some in costumes.

“Since I don’t have my wig with me, I decorated my helmet this year and I make it light up for safety first,” said Stephanie, who wore a unicorn helmet.

While indecent exposure can be a violation of city code, because this ride is a protest, Portland police do not cite people unless they start early, aren’t part of the official event or go off route and cause a disruption.

“Portland has in many ways embraced it as part of what makes us Portlandia,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The organization urges riders to highlight local concerns in their respective cities. In Portland, this means continuing the message of less dependence on fossil fuels, but also focusing on positive body image and safety for cyclists, a ride leader told KOIN before the 2015 ride.

“We are celebrating our bodies in a positive way,” Upchurch said.

Many riders didn’t necessarily join in for the sake of protest.

” No clothes are great, it’s great to be out here without them,” said Mayers.

“I don’t have a big political reason to be out here just the joy of being ourselves,” Miller said. “I’m here mostly for the fun.”

Safety for cyclists is also a big part of the ride. The organizers reminded people that cyclists are vulnerable on Portland’s roads. Police say riders should wear at least a helmet and shoes to avoid injury.

“The reality is riding a bike without any clothes on, any protective gear could be risky,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson. “We do have people who crash every year. We do have people that fall down and get road rashes in lots of places. We do want people to at least wear shoes.”

There was an after party Saturday night at the White Owl Social Club on the East side.

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