PHILADELPHIA — Hundreds of people in various states of dress — or undressed — set off Saturday for a ride through some of Philadelphia’s major streets and landmarks in the 14th Philly Naked Bike Ride.
This annual ride, which began in 2009, aims to promote cycling as a key means of transport and fuel-efficient consumption. It also aims to encourage body positivity. Organizers stress, however, that participants are not required to ride fully clothed, telling them to get “as naked as possible”.
The route, around 21 kilometers this year, changes every year but generally passes by monuments in the city. This year, bikers passed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, site of the walks featured in the “Rocky” movies, historic City Hall, Tony Rittenhouse Square and the South Street entertainment area. The ride was to end at Independence Hall.
Garry J. Gadikian, of Atlantic City, New Jersey, speaking in Fairmount Park during a pre-race meeting, said this race was something he had wanted to do for years.
“It’s a very liberating experience, and definitely something you should do once in a lifetime for that freedom,” he said before joining about 100 participants whose bare flesh was adorned with body paint and of sequins.
Christopher Jordan, who works in information technology in New York, also participated in the race for the first time. He said he thought it was “more than just a matter of getting naked”.
“It’s just about feeling comfortable with your own body and it’s good to look at others too, to compare or not or just to see how comfortable other people feel in their own bodies” , said Jordan.
Organizers said the ride isn’t just about bikes. Scooters, e-bikes, rollerblades, skates, skateboards and even joggers were also welcome, although motorbikes and scooters were asked to watch their speed. The organizers also point to a code of conduct that prohibits any form of physical or sexual harassment.
“Having a column of naked cyclists stretching for blocks behind, blocks across the city and causing a decent amount of disruption, interrupting dinner time” helps show how many cyclists the city has – telling drivers “they have to share the road,” Wesley said. Noonan-Sessa, an event host who regularly bikes in Philadelphia.
But, he says, he thinks the nude element also helps to “desexualize nudity.”
The race was held in September, often in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius), but enough naked runners mentioned being cold that it was moved to August a few years ago . The 2020 edition has been canceled due to the pandemic.
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