World Naked Bike Ride, San Francisco

[NOTE: This is the UNCENSORED version of this report, and is most definitely NOT "safe for work." If you want to see the CENSORED edition, which IS pretty much "safe for work" and family-friendly, click HERE. Aside from covering up the private parts, the reports are otherwise identical.]

Saturday, June 11 was “World Naked Bike Ride” day in San Francisco. As the title implies, it doesn’t happen only in San Francisco — it’s a global event, with rides in over 70 cities around the world.

Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner is recently unemployed, so (in the censored version of this report) I got him a gig as the censor for today’s event. As an expert in penis-photographs, he definitely has the skills for the job! Throughout the censored version of the World Naked Bike Ride report, wherever you would have seen a wiener, you’ll see a Weiner instead! (However, this uncensored version is Weiner-free!)

Participants gathered in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s Embarcadero area. Anyone could join in — anyone who enjoys being naked in public, that is.

The main question gawkers ask is, “Why???” Well, in theory at least, there is a political dimension to the World Naked Bike Ride, which gives me an excuse to report on it. Luckily, the event’s main organizers have posted an FAQ page for the perplexed. The question “Why are you riding naked?” is answered with “To celebrate cycling and the human body. The ride demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and is a protest against oil dependency.” In addition, the WNBR main page states, “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.”

Hmmmm. Seems the message is a little muddled. Several justifications are given:
1. “To celebrate the human body.”
2. To bring attention to how dangerous it is for cyclists on city streets.
3. To protest oil dependency and the oil-based economy.
4. To promote bike-riding and make a stand against the car culture.

But, as the sarcastic commentary about nuclear energy in the picture above shows, nuclear power is also no longer kosher. Yet if you eliminate oil/coal/gas and nuclear…all other energy sources combined account for only 19% of current global needs, so it’s not clear exactly what kind of serious viable solution they’re proposing.

Even so, I suspect there’s only one real reason motivating the World Naked Bike Ride: exhibitionism, or the desire to be naked in public. The rest of the justifications are just a political veneer.

Here’s something you may not have known: If you’re young, skinny, female and half-naked, people will want to take your picture. Learn something new every day!

A guy in all-body tiger paint seemed to be one of the ride organizers.

He happily posed for souvenir photographs with passing tourists.

But when he bends over, watch out! Ass cracks are ass cracks, with or without body paint.

During the pre-ride preparations, one of the riders stood off to the side to make a cell phone call. He was approached by stunned out-of-towners who had summoned up the nerve to ask him what the heck was going on. He nonchalantly explained.

Side note: notice the kid sitting behind the naked guy. No attempt was made, on the part of the participants, police, or public, to keep kids at a safe distance from all the full-frontal nudity.

While a few of the participants were somewhat demure about their private parts being exposed, or were at most faux-nonchalant, most of the rest made a point of exposing themselves as vividly as possible.

Several “participants” did not even have bicycles: They just showed up for the hour-long pre-ride preparation period because it was an opportunity to have a “valid” excuse for being naked in public.

These two guys, for example, showed up, disrobed, stood around for ten minutes posing naked for all the photographers, then put their clothes back on and left! Bicycles had nothing to do with it.

In what I hereby deem as “Worst Public Relations Decision of the Week,” the Nesquik Bunny showed up to hand out free chocolate milk samples to the exhibitionists, and posed for pictures alongside various bizarre characters.

The rest of the Nesquik team joined the fun. And no matter what he was standing next to, the Bunny always kept the same goofy smile, which made the proceedings even more surreal, if that was possible.

The legendary parrots of Telegraph Hill looked down on all the human flesh. “Squawk! Those flightless giant pink birds have lost all their feathers! Squawk!”

Naked lunch.

Here’s an only-in-San-Francsisco moral dilemma: A pre-op transsexual showed up for the ride. He/she thankfully wore shorts, but was “topless.” Now, it was pretty obvious that he/she had not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery, so was technically still biologically “male,” as the muscular physique revealed. But he/she was also either starting hormone treatments, and/or had small implants, because a modest pair of breasts was beginning to emerge. Bay Area Political Correctness dictates that one must always acknowledge and respect whichever gender someone declares him- or herself to be. But wider U.S. social standards dictate that (in the censored version of this report) I cover up any naked boobs exposed in public. Yet censorship is frowned upon according to S.F. mores, while the wider U.S. social standards would not regard this person as yet a woman. So I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t!

To censor, or not to censor — that is the question! (In the end, as you can see in the censored version, I decided to not censor; if you’re open-minded, you can take this to mean that I too am open-minded and oppose censorship; if you’re more old-fashioned, you can take this to mean that I think men are men, regardless of what they think they are. Whew! Wriggled my way out of that one.)

But I’m not safe for long: I’m immediately forced to confront another moral dilemma: How to document the fact that kids were present at this event and witnessing all the full-frontal nudity? Even though there would be “news value” in showing such pictures, there’s also a taboo against having kids and nudity in the same picture. So, to be prudent, I deleted almost all images that showed kids witnessing the goings-on, lest I set off alarms with the Internet Police. (I was also compelled to do this in all my previous “naked San Francisco” reports, of which there have been many.) As a compromise, I show here a guy who brought his months-old baby to the event. Fortunately, the kid seemed far too young to have any awareness of what was going on.

As one point, an unfortunate accidental photographic alignment seemed to show the kid grabbing the ding-dong of one of the riders; but it was all a foreshortening illusion — they were several yards apart.

Sunny day + no clothes = sunburn! So before departing, the participants lined up in a sunscreen elephant-train, lathering it on each other.

Almost time to go! The organizers handed out route maps to the riders: at noon they were all going to start biking around the entire city for several hours, shocking passersby and changing the world! (Notice the cigarillo the guy is smoking. Health!)

Time to pose for one last souvenir shot, to satisfy all the rubberneckers.

And we’re off! After a brief whirl around the plaza and through the craft booths, the riders made their way to the Embarcadero to start their ride along the waterfront.

Some old-school San Francisco natives encountered the lead bike with its sign and gestured at it in disgust. “C’mon, you bozos! You can’t be serious!”

Even this passing tourist cast a jaundiced eye on the proceedings.

As you can see, it was very male-centric at the San Francisco edition of the World Naked Bike Ride. But that’s not necessarily true at many of the other rides in other cities. The London World Naked Bike Ride, for example, is not only ten times the size of the S.F. ride, but is almost half female. And elsewhere in Europe and Australia you’ll find the event to be more gender-balanced.

Were any minds changed by this “protest”? Probably not. Were viable solutions proposed? Nope. Did people “make a statement”? Well, sure, but if your statement is little more than “Look at me, I’m naked!”, then it’s not very clear what you have achieved.

46 Responses to “World Naked Bike Ride, San Francisco”

  1. 1Tom on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:17 am:

    I would say that the gender balance in London was about 80:20. Maybe the pictures I took centred on too many of the girls but guys with their clothes off can look pretty dull after you’ve seen a few. Thanks for the link.

  2. 2zombie on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:38 am:


    Well, even 80/20 is a major improvement over the San Francisco situation. There were about 100 cyclists overall here, and I counted a grand total of 4 females (well, 4.5 if you count the halfway tranny). That’s more like a 96/4 split.

  3. 3q on Jun 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm:

    “BI-cycle! BI-cycle!”

  4. 4ahem on Jun 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm:

    Most people really do look much better with their clothes on.

  5. 5Robert Kessler on Jun 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm:

    Perhaps one of the few lessons that can be drawn from this is that when a society becomes so free that taboos of any kind must be sought out with effort, citizens will parade themselves naked to protest against clothing as an “oppressive restriction”. It’s an interesting time in the decline of Western Civilization.

  6. 6Christina Dunigan on Jun 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm:

    Never mind decorum; they’re a aesthetic assault on the eyes. Though I think the male overload is because they’re gay and looking for hookups. I notice the occasional incipient boner tends to be pointed toward another member of the same sex. So it’s basically, “Gay guys on bicycles with a couple of token women, and we’re not sure why.” P.J. O’Rourke said, “They have a more innocent–not to say toddlerlike–idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and expose their private parts in art museums.” Or in this case, to expose their private parts in every public place they can ride bikes through.

  7. 7daniel noe on Jun 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm:

    I’ve heard of these before, I think, but was under the impression that they were more about the recreation itself than any statement, and to the extent that there was a statement it was more of a counterstatement against what they percieve as the silly imposition of clothing. I could be wrong.

  8. 8logdon on Jun 22, 2011 at 4:22 am:

    Was it a cold day?

  9. 9Sparky on Jun 22, 2011 at 5:14 am:

    Christina….I disagree on the reason for male overload. Most gay men have a thousand places to be exhibitionists and are way less reserved about that….this has straight nudist guy written all over it. Not that there aren’t any ‘mos there at all, but I don’t think these are all gay men.

    Most gay men are far more appearance and workout conscious than these dudes. You’d see far fewer love handles, hippie beards and elevator button penises if that were the case.

  10. 10Gallifet on Jun 22, 2011 at 10:29 am:

    I lived in San Francisco for 21 years and I’m happy you publish these pictures for the rest of the world to see. This is just a symptom of a disease that is coming everywhere. It is called postmodernism. Postmodernism rejects the truth of the ‘meta-narrative’. That is, there is no objective reality. All is subjective. So…an individual can say that we live in a repressive and homophobic world and to prove it, pulls his clothes off and behaves horribly. When onlookers are shocked he says, “See how repressive?”. This is a collective level of narcissistic obsession that is inimical to social order. I observed different facets of it for many years. I once asked a gay friend, “Why do they do that?” He said, “It makes their nipples hard”. My wife and I now call it the ‘Har-nip principle’. These behaviors are the natural outcome of the philosophical teachings of the academy. Mr Obama is the pied-piper of the postmodern movement. This way lies madness.

  11. 11Henry Reardon on Jun 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm:

    But I’m not safe for long: I’m immediately forced to confront another moral dilemma: How to document the fact that kids were present at this event and witnessing all the full-frontal nudity? Even though there would be “news value” in showing such pictures, there’s also a taboo against having kids and nudity in the same picture.

    Maybe there’s a taboo on kids and nudity on the internet but that isn’t necessarily true in public spaces. I went swimming with some friends in Toronto about 15 years ago and was astonished to see young children, male and female, wandering around unaccompanied in the men’s changeroom.

    Frankly, I was astonished but then recalled reading a newspaper article that this had become a widespread practice in Toronto a year or two previously. Apparently, adults bringing their opposite-sex children swimming without the assistance of an opposite-sex adult, like a wife or husband, didn’t want their children running around unattended in the changerooms of the opposite sex for fear of the child being kidnapped. Also, I believe that sociologists were murmuring publicly that adults should not hide our naked bodies from their children because this would cause inappropriate embarrassment on the part of the child. So, despite all the taboos that had previously existed, children were being permitted in the changerooms of the opposite gender and allowed to see other adults’ nakedness, all without the consent of either children or the other adults.

    Despite the claim that this was for the safety of the children, I saw several children wandering around through our large changeroom without any visible supervision. The lockers made it impossible for a parent to monitor his child without moving around to keep him or her in view but I don’t recall any parents walking around to keep an eye on little Jimmy or Susie. Could someone have simply grabbed one of these kids and spirited them away? I don’t know but the absence of a parent in eye-contact with their offspring certainly increased the odds of a successful abduction.

    I don’t know if this is still the practice in changerooms at public facilities in Toronto or if this behaviour has spread to other areas since then. I just know I found it quite off-putting.

  12. 12Northern VA on Jun 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm:

    Where was Nancy Pelosi?

  13. 13EX-SF in TX on Jun 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm:

    Been a couple decades since I lived in SF; don’t miss the screwed up politics but I do miss some of the zaney affairs like this one.

  14. 14annie on Jun 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm:

    Obviously, some of those guys weren’t there to brag…..IYKWIM

  15. 15jaafar on Jun 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm:

    Good God, put some clothes on these old duffers!

  16. 16fred on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm:

    Where was inflated scrotum guy?

  17. 17Federale on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm:

    No hot chicks, and few naked chicks. Typical. The organization had a naked chick on their flag and publicity, but few naked chicks. And the hypocrite chicks with pasties and underwear, I guess they can talk the talk, but not walk the walk, or ride the ride naked.

  18. 18George Davis on Jun 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm:

    On the subject of children, I have had a published offer of $1000 to anyone who can write an intelligent 500 word essay on “What harm would befall a child who sees a nude adult?” In 4 years, I have received zero essays. Does that maybe mean that it cannot be written? Submit to

  19. 19sarainitaly on Jul 16, 2011 at 3:31 am:

    did i just lose my comment?

  20. 20craig on Aug 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm:

    You wont thing clothing would a bad idea if you have a wipe-out.

    I’ve never had the desire to go out in public nude like that. For a man showing his shlong it is embarrasing either if you have a big one, flopping around and conspicuous, or if you have a little one, like one of those guys who had a retractable one.

  21. 21BS Footprint on Aug 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm:

    Why is it that none of the naked bikers look anything near as nice as the gal in their poster? (See the first photo in the article…)

  22. 22Karl on Sep 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm:

    It just seems to me that this was just a really fun way for nudists to get together in a public setting other than a resort or on a beach. As a nudist and an exhibitionist myself, I would have loved to participate. But of course, there’s never anything interesting going on in my part of the country! As far as the comments concerning these nudists’ appearance: Should one be shunned because of the way he (or she) looks? Instead of deriding those who enjoy things a little different, people should make it a point to try them for themselves before passing judgement. I for one can tell you that if you’re ever brave enough to be naked outdoors — whether in a public or a private situation — you’ll learn to love the total sense of freedom that it provides. And as far as children are concerned: As a person who has visited several different nudist clubs and resorts, I can attest to the fact that the children I’ve known who’ve attended with their parents are some of the most well-adjusted, intelligent, happy people one could imagine. Not only do they learn that nudity can be a wholesome, healthy activity, they learn to accept their bodies as they are — not as society would judge them — therefore they have a much higher respect for themselves and also for others, than non-nudists. Anyone who has never witnessed this for themselves has no business even commenting on the subject.

  23. 23TJ on Oct 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm:

    I’m a cyclist, as in I haven’t had a car in 12 years, and there’s no way I’d want to come that close to my bike seat. I mean really.

    I also noticed that the clothed in the photos are invariably wearing clothes that fit SFs general chilliness, and some of the nude are even wearing knit caps. A nudist may contradict me on this, but it just seems to me that these folks are not much more than attention whores.

    I think it’s a symptom of something much deeper in our culture. There’s some deeply unmet need somewhere. And continually trying to be more unique than the next person or more outrageous than the last time has to be exhausting.

  24. 24Wellstoner on Nov 17, 2011 at 2:03 am:

    Ugh, the seats. Gack!

    Look at these photos. Now think about Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky exhibiting himself to little boys in the locker room and in his home. Forced viewing of adult nudity.

    I am so grateful for the forces and events that got me and my family out of SF, the most sexually neurotic city in the US. The desperation to be seen, to make a spectacle, to exhibit one’s symptoms or fetishes, to be extreme–it has gotten much worse in the past 10 years there.

    Again, Sandusky: his lawyer tried to excuse his “horsing around with” little boys in the locker room showers by saying “he’s just a big kid.” (Like the inability to grow up is an excuse, when a man is in a position of responsibility, authority, and public prominence?)

    That’s SF in a nutshell: the city that refuses to grow up and prizes the adolescent tantrum uber alles. It no longer deserves to bear the name of the patron saint of animals. It should be renamed PeterPantopia. With an accent on the Peter.

  25. 25Mary on Dec 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm:

    I agree, a disease of some sort; symptom of some underlying mental problem. That core group of old hippies from the 60′s had their brains burned out by drugs decades ago. Or maybe demons have invaded their ugly carcasses? “Attention seeking whores” good one. People thrilled by shocking and forcing strangers to view their naked genitals are despicable, and in the olden days would be locked up as perverts. “wholesome” is not a word I would choose to apply here. They seek to offend people. Aren’t bike tires made of materials that harm the environment in producing them and eventually when left at dumps etc? “free” yeah free from moral values of decency. Most people are not nudists and have no desire to be nude in public. Nudists should not be permitted to force this on the general public. Where are the automobile producers? Can we get them to fund some counteraction on these creeps? Serious scumbags.

  26. 26Victor C. Capelli on Feb 29, 2012 at 1:07 am:

    I think all of it is just basically homos and faggots looking to hook up with other faggots. Sodom and Gommorah, 2012 style. I”m glad I’m straight and not queer.

  27. 27hung on Nov 21, 2012 at 4:20 am:

    most of these guys have small peckers !!!!

  28. 28Marky Mark on May 14, 2013 at 4:16 am:

    This event is an excuse for nudity, exhibitionsim/flashing is illegal where I am so I can’t believe this type of behaviour isn’t outlawed. I now have to explain to my 6 and 8 year old kids (who accidentally saw this take place) that this nudity is ok when groups are protesting. What a joke! These cyclists aren’t proving anything, they are trying to give themselves an excuse to take their clothes off, there are places to do that such as nature camps and nude beaches. It’s very creepy.

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  30. 30Nathaniel on Jun 8, 2013 at 8:26 am:

    The SF version may be a little more tainted, but the original concept was to draw attention to the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and show that drivers need to pay more attention to cyclists while also saying cyclists have more fun. In Portland, the originating city, it’s not so creepy. There are still plenty of older and out of shape people, but it’s a mix of everyone. I’m actually really conservative, but I’m riding in the pdx wnbr this year. Nudity is not inherently the same as sexuality, and in addition to making people nationwide more aware of the community of cyclists they share the road with, it’s also just a good, fun way to gain courage to overcome body image issues. Nobody there is judging your body, unlike all of the fine, lovely people here on the internet.

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