World Naked Bike Ride
(often initialised as WNBR) is a protest in favour of more space for bikes and curbs to car culture and fossil-fuel use. It is held in various cities, and 2014 was to be Oxford’s first.
Why would I want to do this? Partly because space for cycles is important, and our overuse of fossil fuels is a slow-moving disaster of global proportions – it seemed to be the obvious opener for what as both Oxford Bike Week
and Low-Carbon Oxford week
. A more self-centred reason is that one does not often have an opportunity to cycle naked through Oxford—and as slightly crazy challenges that take you a little out of your comfort zone, it is cheaper and less carbon-intensive than jetting off to a distant beach or driving to fire-walking seminar or whatever.
I met with friends beforehand at the Jam Factory so we could decide together whether we felt the organization was really there enough to feel confident joining in—the online info was discouragingly sketchy. Once we arrived at the start point we were met by the marshal with his special marshal vest to reassure us that (a) yes, the police are sanguine, and (b) yes, the route had been changed to avoid George Street (currently closed). It was a little chilly so I put off undressing until the ride was about to start. I left my helmet off as well, on the grounds I don‘t want to be sending out the signal that low-speed bicycling is a dangerous sport. After 25 years of habitually wearing a helmet, this was the thing I was most aware of not wearing once I was out on the road!
The ride itself was fine, though I am unused to riding in a large group and stressed a little about whether we were supposed to stop at red lights or not. The temperature was on the cool side but the exercise kept me warm. Oxford being Oxford, there were a massive number of iPads and iPhones on display as the tourists struggled to take a photo before we all disappeared. After a couple of loops of the city my friends and I decide to wimp out before the big suburban loop, dressed and repaired to the Jam Factory to see what sort of mean things people had written about us on Twitter.
Our aim was to help produce the smallest possible thing that could be called an Oxford Naked Bike Ride, so that in future years it can be built up in to a bigger, more diverse, and more Oxford-y event. If we can convince enough hipsters and hippies to join in it could be a fair crowd.
No-one is quire show where to organise events online anymore, so there are several places to find out more about the ride: Oxford WNBR wiki page
, Facebook page
, Facebook group
, Yahoo group
. (Edited to add:) Photos on Flickr in the Oxford WNBR 2014 pool
and Oxford WNBR pool