By Robert Mills
Update, 6:20 p.m. Think we went too far posting a video of the naked cyclists? Not worried about nudity in this context? Take the poll on our Facebook page so we can get your feedback.
Update, 5:45 p.m. After YouTube took down our video (a first for Berkeleyside — being censored), we have uploaded the same video on vimeo with a perhaps less offensive still front image. It can be viewed above.
Update, 4:25 p.m. YouTube took down our video of the Naked Bike Day cyclists in Berkeley because of the nudity content. Stay posted –we will try to replace it or at least provide still images.
Just over a dozen Bay Area cyclists assembled in People’s Park Saturday to roll out Berkeley’s World Naked Bike Ride 2011. “As bare as you dare,” was the general rule at the gathering. There weren’t many regulations past that.
Riders yelled, “it’s the World Naked Bike Ride!” to any and all – and a lot of folks paid attention.
Some passersby snapped cell-phone pictures and cheered on the group. More than one visitor grunted that People’s Park was not “a nudist camp.”
A park supervisor — who refused to comment to Berkeleyside — warned group members to get dressed. She called the police after more cyclists continued to gather and disrobe.
Officers arrived and informed naked group members that nudity was not permitted on university property. After a friendly exchange, the exposed demonstrators — who were waiting naked in the park for more members to arrive — covered up.
Some men pulled on shorts. Others wore leopard-print bikini briefs and athletic supporters. The few women in the group remained clothed while in the park.
“There’s a $100 ordinance, but the cops don’t enforce it,” said George Davis, a longtime nudist and naturalist who helped start San Francisco’s first non-beach, urban, clothing-optional park called “The Buff Stop”.
Davis and other members said they gathered for similar reasons: to call attention to humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels, to demonstrate the vulnerability of cyclists, and to enjoy a lengthy naked bike ride through town.
The parade of cyclists left the park around 1:00 p.m., stopping on the sidewalk to undress. Some riders remained half-clothed while others wore only a helmet. One rider wore a body-paint message on his back reading: “Cars Are Earth’s Cancer.”
The group peddled through Dwight Way, College Avenue, Ashby Avenue, Telegraph Avenue, Bancroft Way, Shattuck Avenue, Rose Street, Cedar Street, 4th Street and across the I-80 Pedestrian Bridge where they rested by the water.
On the return route, they traveled back across the bridge to 4th Street, riding through Cedar Street, Sacramento Street, Hearst Avenue, Shattuck Avenue and back to Dwight Way and People’s Park. The entire ride spanned about 15 miles.
Robert A. Mills is a graduate student studying interactive journalism at The Reynolds School of Journalism at The University of Nevada, Reno. He is currently interning at Berkeleyside.