Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BBB Archive 1/20/2006: Riding in the Buff? Tuff!!

Jan. 20, 2006-- Imagine that, riding naked on a bicycle! Hard to imagine when the temperature here is ranging between 55 degrees on a good day, down to 25 degrees when it's actually normal for this time of year.
Last June 11, folks in Vancouver, British Columbia, rode naked on their bicycles.
But it's not the weather we are talking about here: it's the fact that they rode not only en masse--in other words, a spontaneous, large event, composed of cyclists filling the streets in what is known as a clean, well-organized, and decent city--they also rode naked! In other words, it was a critical mass, to use a controversial term, in the nude.
The question is this: what would happen if New York cyclists normally accustomed to straddling the line between legal and illegal when they ride in the critical mass every last day of the month-- what would happen if they rode naked next time? Would every single one of them go to jail, and if so, would it be for riding en masse without a permit, as the city has continually asked them to do? Or for riding naked?
Partial nakedness is not illegal in New York. Some essential parts need to be hidden from view if they would be considered by the normal person to be indecent. New York Penal Code has specific codes regarding "lewdness" and "exposure", but a woman can expose her breasts if she is "entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment." Men would have to wear jockstraps.
So if that is the case, then would people be arrested more because they are not only irritating the city by not getting a permit, as well as being on the verge of being indecent? Or would the cops be hands-off because of the huge publicity that is sure to follow? Imagine all those photos with naked cyclists being dragged into paddy wagons! Sounds like a front-page media hullabaloo, worthy even of national stalwarts CNN and MSNBC.
The naked bike ride was part of World Naked Bike RIde, which this year will fall on June 10. Sadly, if you click through to their site, you will see that New York is not listed as one of the U.S. cities participating in 2006.
But what you wil see is a huge number of highly respectable, big cities, some with complex social and traffic systems. Let's visit the list: Portland, OR, and Boulder, CO. Okay, those two have a reputation for the young and ourdorsey set, so you could expect them to allow this sort of event.
What about, Pensacola, FL, and Asheville, NC? Hmm. Just a tad bit older population there, somewhat more conservative. Oh, here are a couple of good ones: Austin, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, and Chicago, IL. What? Austin, home of cowboys, Cadillacs, and women with Big Hair. They're sure to be 'real tolerant. Salt Lake City? The Mormons will love it. Chicago? The town with a history of police problems, but they're sure to take the whole thing as a big joke.
So what exactly is wrong with New York City? Have we really lost all of our sense of humour? Many of the other cities included body art in their rides, so that the entire public show was also an art show. I could see this as being very successful in New York because we are afterall, known for having the best museums, galleries and art shows in the world. So why not a live art show, shown at a slow pace, to thousands of people who wouldn't even have to pay an entrance fee? I can't think of a better reason, and I hope TimesUp! and other bike organizations around the region will join together to create a June 10 Bike Naked New York. In the meantime, if you dare, take off a few pieces at the next Critical Mass, January 27.
If you have a response to this posting, please go to "Cyclists' Rants". Eventually this entire blog will be migrated to that page, so your responses will feel more spontaneous.

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