Following the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizion oil rig and subsequent spill, there were scattered protests around the country, a bunch of huffing and puffing on Capitol Hill, and a general sense of heartbreak as TV news viewers watched the first tar balls reach land in Alabama.
But all in all, little has changed. Most of us took a gasoline-powered vehicle to work today.
As organizers of the annual World Naked Bike Ride know, if you really want to make a difference, you should ditch your car and start riding your bike. And if you really want to turn that frown upside down, you could help organize a local World Naked Bike Ride locally. According to a comminique received from WNBR headquarters, "the greatest and most funnest protest ever in the universe" is just weeks away, on June 12. Regional coordinators are needed.
Engineer-turned-author/filmmaker/activist Conrad Schmidt dosen't really like to take credit for having founded the WNBR. People have been riding their bikes naked, he says, "ever since ever since somebody invented the bicycle -- since before the bicycle had pedals."
He and fellow bike enthusiasts in Vancouver, Canada simply said "OK, why don't we make it an international event to protest car culture?!'" Schmidt recalls. The first WNBR was "just something that happened after a party" and continued year after year. As far as riding because of the oil spill, Schmidt says, "Compared to climate change, the spill is just a tiny disaster on the endless list of disasters cars create."
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Since 2004, naked bike rides have sprung up in Spain, London, Chicago, Dublin and more. "Anybody can organize one," Schmidt says. "Nobody has to ask permission." Some rides are huge events with permits and hundreds of riders, while other groups ride without ever reporting the turnout or inviting press coverage. "I just found out two days ago that they had one in Dublin last year with hundreds of people," he says.
Schmidt says that he's done just a little outreach to biking groups and nudist resorts. (But the nudists don't always get it -- "If you see a big SUV pull up and take their bike out of the trunk, those are the nudists.")
New Times requested comment from South Florida bike enthusiasts to see if a ride was already being planned, but none had responded at press time. Anyone interested in organizing a ride should pick out a meeting place and advertise on Facebook and Twitter. The WNBR website offers ideas for slogans ("Less Gas! More Ass!"), advice for dealing with police and photographers, and tips for riding nude in comfort.
If you like biking nude to save the world, you may enjoy some of Schmidt's other ideas.