Crowds cheer naked bike ride through downtown Bellingham

Nearly 400 cyclists rode through downtown — most of them in the buff — Friday evening, June 3, for this year’s annual Bellingham World Naked Bike Ride.

The 3.5-mile ride, which started at the Hub Community Bike Shop, 903  1/2 N. State St. at 6 p.m., aimed to bring awareness to a variety of issues including body image, reliance on fossil fuels and cyclist safety. The local ride is a carbon copy of nude bike rides organized around the world. Last year’s Bellingham ride drew about 280 cyclists.

Hours before the ride, a woman was struck riding her bicycle on Interstate 5 near the Lakeway Drive exit. The crash magnified the cause the group was riding for, ride organizer Zachary Robertson said.

“I think when tragedies like that happen, it really gives people pause to consider what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s definitely something we need pause for.”

The ride stuck mostly to downtown surface streets like State, Holly, Forest, Prospect and Flora, as well as Railroad and Cornwall avenues.

A crowd of several hundred gathered at the intersection of Holly Street and Railroad Avenue to watch and cheer as the group rode northwest up Holly. Bellingham resident Lisa Heisey said the other downtown goings-on brought her to the area, but she supported the message.

“I think it’s good to be friendly on the road whether you’re on a bike or in a car,” she said.

Bellingham Police Department officers assigned to the event were instructed to issue citations only if complaints were made against specific riders. No one was arrested or cited during the ride, said police Sgt. Claudia Murphy.

The ride’s safety monitors, designated with bright-green vests, did a great job of keeping the group together, Murphy said.

“It went off without a hitch,” she added.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan