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San Francisco bicyclists protest fossil fuels on World Naked Bike Ride

WNBR organizer Oswald prepares to lead the group on the ride
WNBR organizer Oswald prepares to lead the group on the ride
- By Rem O'Donnelley

Over 30 bicyclists took part in the fifth annual World Naked Bike Ride in San Francisco on Saturday. People of all shapes and sizes met at Justin Herman Plaza and bared all during the ride through the city to protest fossil fuels.

The riders went down a crowded Embarcadero waterfront sidewalk then onto Fisherman's Wharf and other high traffic places to get the public's attention. “The whole purpose of this ride is it catches peoples' attention. If people see there are a bunch of naked bikers and they wonder what's going on, if they don't ask us they might Google it and they'll see World Naked Bike Ride and then they go, 'oh, I'll see what that's about.' Then they see signs on the bikes and the little slogans we paint on there. It's about provoking thought. Think about what little bit you can do,” said ride organizer Oswald.

The San Francisco resident said, ““I'm not one of these tree hugger environmentalists. I'm just fed up with the way things are going. If people just sit on their behinds and say the world sucks and the economy is going in the tank and we can't do anything, we can. Maybe not during this ride but people start to think.”

Today's activity was billed as the Southern Hemisphere ride as it occurred the same day that the summer World Naked Bike Rides were held in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

Ed came from Oakland to participate. This was his third San Francisco ride but he also has done rides in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. “Philadelphia is the second largest. Portland had 10,000 (participants) once, perhaps more and that's a conservative number,” he said.

His reasons for taking his clothes off and participating are simple. “I just think it is fun and an opportunity to be clothes free in a social way and it's fun.”

Greg came from San Jose and has done about 10 of the rides. He has also taken part nude for Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair. He enjoys touring the city and the camaraderie of other riders. He participates for a few reasons. “Part of it is protest, part is body freedom and part of it is the bike.”

One participant is a familiar face to people who attend both this event, the No Pants Subway Ride and Bay to Breakers. Lloyd Fishback calls himself an “urban nudist.”

This was his fourth or fifth year taking part. “I'm working on my suntan,” was his reason to ride naked.

Mike moved to the city from Mexico four years ago. He says he has done around seven of these rides including one in Mexico City.

His reasons for joining the event was, “because it's very freeing. It's a nice chance of biking in the city in a different way. I like the idea that nudity isn't wrong, so there should be no reason to prohibit it,” he said.

There will be three more World Naked Bike Rides this year, one during Earth Week, one on the second Saturday in June and the last Saturday in July. If last summer was anything to go by, expect around 70 riders this year.

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