Hundreds of bicyclists are expected to ride around downtown in their birthday suits for the Bellingham World Naked Bike Ride this Friday evening, June 5.
Starting at 2 p.m., participants will start to gather at the Hub Community Bike Shop, 903 1/2 N. State St., for body painting and other festivities.
Then at 6 p.m., riders wearing anything from colorful outfits to nothing but the skin on their backs will start their route through downtown, riding along North Forest Street, Holly Street, Railroad Avenue, North State Street, and other portions of the city core.
More than 200 people already have signed up for the seventh annual ride, said Zachary Robertson, one of the event’s organizers.
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“Whether you’re into it or not, you can find our route on our website: BellinghamNakedBikeRide.com,” Robertson said. “Our technique is to get the ride out to as many people as possible so the streets can be populated only with people who are into the ride, and won’t be offended by it, to the best of our ability.”
The ride will coincide with the beginning of the unaffiliated monthly downtown Art Walk, which goes from 6 to 10 p.m.
Anyone who wants to join is invited to the ride, clothed or not, Robertson said.
“We set up really good parameters on safe space and appropriate interaction with one another,” he said. “It’s a really fun, inspiring and nonsexual event. It’s really important to have clothes-free time that’s not sexualized.”
The ride is one of dozens that take place in other cities around the world. In addition to opening a conversation about body image and nudity, it is aimed at drawing attention to the dangers cars pose to bicyclists, as well as a form of protesting indecent exposure to fossil fuels, Robertson said.
“The ride itself illustrates how vulnerable a bicyclist is in traffic,” Robertson said. “I also do it because I’m a father, and I want my 2-year-old to have a different understanding of what the body is. ... This is a way in which I take back the story, in a community setting, of what my body means, and what the image of my body means to me.”
Before the ride, Bellingham Police officers plan to pass out fliers explaining the Washington state law on indecent exposure, and they may be stationed at various areas along the route. Officers may respond to complaints as appropriate, and if someone complains and is willing to testify in court, citations could be issued.
No complaints were filed about the ride last year.
After the ride is over around 7 p.m., participants plan to have a dance party a few blocks away from the Hub, Robertson said.