Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

World Naked Bike Ride

Describing the efforts by NAG (and others) to promote this protest against the car and modern life’s reliance on the petrochemical industry – promoting the use of human powered vehicles (bicycles, etc), while highlight road safety at the same time. Nudity is used as a metaphor for the vulnerability of cyclists on today’s roads.

Clacton naturists successful

Saturday 20 July 2019 and at 2.00pm, to a clap of thunder, 25 naked cyclists started the 7th Clacton WNBR from the west sea front near to the Martello Tower. Organised by Robert and a small local Four Seasons WNBR collective, the route took the naked riders from an assembly point in the Toby Carvery car park on a gentle 8-mile circular route around the streets of Clacton in sunshine and showers.

Without fanfare, other than the thunder, they could not match the Colchester send-off the Saturday before when 20 riders and watching crowds heard music from the Street Orchestra Live. Naturally, amongst the tunes played was the hit ‘Ride my Bicycle’ by Queen.

To aid traffic control a motorcycle escort, provided by Michael, helped to clear the way at road junctions. Riders came from far and wide; London, Brazilian friends Gabriella and Milton, Eastbourne, Gloucester, a WNBR ride organiser from Australia, Cambridge, Ipswich as well as the area around Clacton. They included Ken on a special trike which accommodated his oxygen cylinder. and to add to the carnival atmosphere Adam wore a colourful straw hat.

For Barry Greenope, definitely not to be confused with Barry Freeman, it was his 99th WNBR. Barry was disappointed that he will not attain 100 rides until the start of the 2020 WNBR season. Advance coverage by local paper Clacton Weekly Gazette meant that thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on the naked cyclists.

Robert gave a good interview on BBC Radio Suffolk, at their invitation, on the Monday after the Ipswich WNBR. Then on Wednesday Robert had a phone conversation with inspector Matt Breeze, a police officer from Ipswich, who said they had received no adverse comments from the public about the ride. Along with the public, police officers were looking forward to the carnival atmosphere created by the ride. Patrons of Marine Parade pubs and restaurants had a lucky opportunity to cheer on the ride twice.

After the ride ended some of the jubilant cyclists went to the new naturist beach nearby. A small stretch of beach is just past the Martello Tower and easily identified by the big rocks in the sand. After a spot of sun and sea we had a joint meal in the nearby Toby Carvery. Another special rider was Alan, who is autistic and collected £125 for the charity National Autistic Society.   

John Paine

PARIS WNBR farce

Four baffled police motorcycle outriders arrived at 1.00pm at the Espace Naturiste in Paris on Sunday 8 September. Paris WNBR organisers then had to inform them that the Paris local government had cancelled the planned ride – just the day before on Saturday 7th. But the local government department officers had not informed this police unit. That meant the police escort to clear the WNBR route through Paris traffic was not needed.

Months of planning by APNEL’s Jacques Frimon, together with Gilles had gone into the ride. APNEL is the French equivalent of the UK’s Naturist Action Group. All the correct procedures were followed and permissions were granted. Then on the Saturday Didier Lallement, Prefect (head) of the Paris Police decided that the ride should not be classified as a protest – as all other WNBR rides are accepted to be internationally – but would instead be classed as an illegal sexual display.

On the Sunday morning hundreds of riders turned up at the Espace Naturiste in Bois de Vincennes. Also there in force were

Annual Report 2019 Published

Today, we are publishing the 2019 edition of our Annual Report giving an overview of efforts to get naturism as an accepted lifestyle in the year up to 28th February 2019. In our opinion, we had a good year, but we know we could have had a better one. If you wish to see NAG’s good year continue, please donate whatever you can to us, or you might like to consider volunteering to be a part of our Press and Media Group? Details of how to do either is on our website and in the Annual Report respectively.

Good Parenting

The Brighton leg for the WNBR caused a bit more of a stir than usual this year, as it was alleged that a girl – thought to be eight or nine years old – took part, naked.

Chris Holmes, who complained about it to The Argus, said: ‘The fact there was an eight or nine-year old girl on her bike completely naked shocked me beyond words.’ The quote continued: ‘I spoke to the organisers, who seemed to think this was fine.’

While on the other hand, Sarah Bush was quoted as saying the: ‘ones in the wrong aren’t the parents or organisers but anyone picturing [the child] for unhealthy reasons. Let the kids enjoy their innocence while they can.’

Co-organiser for the Brighton WNBR, Duncan Blinkhorn told The Argus that the ride was about being body-positive and that applies to children as much as adults, adding ‘Why can’t children be naked if adults are naked?’

And that’s the point; WNBR is a protest where nudity is used to show the vulnerability of bike riders and to gain publicity. The adult would be saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’, if they were naked but banned the child from doing the same.

As a society, we do seem to have this odd reaction to when it comes to children. We tend to over empathise with the child and by doing so we project our own feelings and fears on to them, for the child’s sake. In an article on a different topic for The Telegraph, Rowan Pelling wrote: ‘A few years ago, when my children were young enough to enjoy the local paddling pool, other parents would frown when I let them run around naked, obsessed as the world is with the notion paedophiles are tracking your offspring’s every move.’

That is so true. We are obsessed with the perceived dangers that lurk in our streets. Whatever happened to the advice ‘Don’t talk to strangers’? Whatever happened to the old maxim ‘A little bit of dirt in your diet does you good’? That should not be taken literally of course, but a child must be allowed to take controlled risks in order to learn from them.

What that child has learned by taking part in the WNBR is what it is like to be naked in a public setting. Next year, she may still choose to participate but not naked. Or she might not participate at all, that will be her choice and an informed one from the earlier experience. We demand all kinds of information about things we are not expert in to make an informed choice. Being a good parent, in my book, means giving children the tools to make better choices in later life.

Incidentally, just as a small digression. The Brighton WNBR is a marshalled event so police officers were in attendance and could have intervened at any point, if they thought the child was in any danger. A Sussex Police spokesperson told The Argus that they had not been approached about the naked child or received any complaints. So, was The Argus guilty of sensationalising an incident that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, or was Chris Holmes just grabbing his 15-minutes of fame? I leave you to decide.

World Naked Bike Ride 2015

This might come a little late for some, but between 23 May and 18 July different World Naked Bike Rides will be held around the UK. This is a protest primarily against oil dependency, and for the environment, cycling advocacy and, as its as bare as you dare, body acceptance. If you’re planning to participate, great but you could give the organisers a hand at the same time, they always welcome a little extra help. Or perhaps you would like to join a ride but not sure where one is being held? Either way, take a look at the national website for WNBR UK to find your nearest ride and/or organiser’s contact details.

Tender(ing) Protest

If everything runs to schedule then this will be published on the NAG website just about the same time as the 2nd Clacton WNBR event takes place and an edited version will also be appearing in H&E Naturist.

First, for those who don’t know, a little bit of background information on the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), courtesy of Wikipedia. (You can read the entire entry if you wish, but I’ll continue with a shortened version.) The first ride was in 2004, in Vancouver, British Columbia and organised by South African-born resident Conrad Schmitt. Schmitt had conceived of the WNBR after organising another naked bike protest in the city for Artists for Peace/Artists against War (AFP/AAW) in 2003. Unaware of each other, AFP/AAW and Manifestación Ciclonudista of Spain were organizing similar events with almost identical messages, and collaboration between the two groups led to the creation of the World Naked Bike Ride. In 2004 it was a protest against oil dependency and a celebration of the power, and individuality of the human body. By 2006, the message had shifted, simplifying it to the advocacy of cycling, and cycling issues. The participants’ nudity represented the vulnerability and dangers faced by cyclists on the roads today. The golden rule regarding WNBR’s dress code has always been “as bare as you dare” with full or partial nudity encouraged, but it has never been mandatory. Even so, this has led to the participation of many naturists, as organisers and riders, but the WNBR has never overtly advocated social nudity.

In its early years in the UK, the WNBR was virtually ignored by British Naturism because they, quite rightly, did not see it as a naturist event and I think (and I’m happy to be corrected) that it was Duncan Heenan and I who were the first participants of the London WNBR while holding office as Treasurer and Vice-Chairman respectively. I should emphasise, that there is not now and never has been a link between British Naturism and the British organisers of the World Naked Bike Ride.

In 2004 there were 24 WNBR events in 10 countries on four continents. By 2010 there were 74 rides in 17 countries. For some, like London, the police forces have stopped escorting the ride, leaving it to the rides to organise their own marshals to guide the protest through the streets. But not all police forces are so enlightened, not even in the United Kingdom.

On 6th June 2014, Tendring District Council (TDC) and Essex Police published a joint press release asking the organisers of the town’s leg of the WNBR to reconsider their decision to proceed with the event despite their earlier ‘strong request’ not to. Councillor Mick Page, leader of Tendring DC said: “The reaction last time [in 2013] from the community has led us to oppose the ride this year on their behalf and that stance is fully backed by the Police, who… had the unenviable job of escorting the riders.

“There was one particular incident which gave both the council and Police very serious concern and we do not want any repeat of that type of behaviour,’ added Cllr Page. The press release failed to explain what that ‘particular incident’ was.

For their part, Clacton’s Policing District Commander, Chief Inspector Cat Barrie said Essex Police had worked very closely with Tendring DC to produce an appropriate response to the planned ride.

Cllr Page is just continuing the line established by his predecessor as leader, Cllr Peter Halliday. In 2013, the naked bike ride had been preceded by a sponsored skinny dip in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care and it was thought a naked fun run was also being planned for later in the year, which actually never happened. Cllr Halliday had taken exception to these events, or the threat of them, believing that it was spoiling Clacton’s image as a family seaside resort (EADT, 26/07/2013).

Anyway, as a result of Tendring District Council’s actions, the Clacton WNBR lead organiser, Robert Brown, told the East Anglian Daily Times (10/06/2014) that they will not be put off by threats and intimidation, and they planned to go ahead with the ride, although it had been brought forward by one week from its original date of 26 July.

Now that we are all on the same page with this story, let us look at the claims and counter-claims made in it.

In its original statement Tendring DC said it and the police officers escorting the riders in 2013 had received a number of complaints, which led them to believe the townspeople did not want the ride to go ahead. An article in the East Anglian Daily Times (10/06/2014) gave that number as more than 20. We are therefore talking about less than 30 (otherwise the journalist would have said if it was more than 30, etc.) and even allowing it to be 29 complaints this amounts to just 0.05 per cent of the Clacton’s population of 64,000 people (according to TDC’s own document: Tendring Life: A Breath of Fresh Air. Clacton Seafront: A New Future 2012-2016). With such a minuscule section of the community making their opinion known the politicians are stretching the truth beyond creditability to say that they are talking on behalf of Clacton’s townspeople. What they are actually trying to show that they stick up for the town and are worthy of the residents’ vote in the next election, by being economical with the truth.

Another of the claims made in the press release published by Tendring DC is that the ride had been billed as “a peaceful environmental protest” but Cllr Page said that as there was no evidence of banners or messages in support of the environment, and it actually appeared to be a promotional event for naturism. The evidence cited is inconclusive, for as any science student knows, you cannot prove a negative. A lack of banners and signs telling onlookers what the riders were protesting about would simply appear as a bunch of cyclists riding around the town centre, naked. This does not then lead to the conclusion that the cyclists were promoting naturism because, again, the evidence does not show that.

As cynical that I am about politician, the lead organiser for WNBR Clacton, Robert Brown, is not above making statements that could not be substantiated either. In an article for East Anglia Daily Times (10/06/2014) Brown claimed that the ride brought: “business to the town.” How does he know? Could he add any figures to this statement? The council disputed the claim in the same article. Making unsubstantiated claims like that of Brown’s only undermines the cause you trying to promote, or in this case, defend.

Rather than bandy half-truths and out-and-out lies with the council via the press, it would have been much better to address the issues raised by TDC and Essex Police, and let their actions do the talking.

Yet, there is an issue here that is purely of naturist interest and it stems from Cllr Page’s assertion that the WBNR last year was to promote naturism rather than in defence of the environment. The document, Tendring Life, referred to above is about the regeneration of the seafronts at Clacton and Holland-on-Sea and put the case that both towns offered potential to re-invent themselves as seaside resorts for the 21st century. Quoting Tendring Life, tourism in the district contributed £276 million to Tendring’s economy and provided employment for 13 per cent of its residents. But unsurprisingly, nowhere in the document does it mention naturism as part of this regeneration plan. According to the Internet forum Essex Naturists, a river beach at St Osyth, about five miles inland from Clacton, is the only official naturist beach in the county. Surely it cannot be beyond our wits to devise a survey to find out if: (a) the people of Clacton know about it; (b) if they cared about the beach being used by naturists or social nudity in general, and; (c) if the users of the beach contributed to the local economy by using Clacton’s hotels, bars and restaurants and with an estimation of how much they were spending? Then we can tell the council exactly how their own town thinks and how we help it thrive.

Do that, and maybe the council will have a different attitude towards naturism and stop them spouting rubbish as they politic. It may even change their mind about the WBNR?

London & Bristol WNBR

If you are going to either of the two World Naked Bike Rides in London (9th June) or Bristol (10th June) then you have the opportunity to meet other Naturist Action Group supporters beforehand (see attached). We could also do with a little help, by printing and distributing the leaflets to other participants who may also be entranced by the naked lifestyle, just as you are but unsure how to promote and encourage a lifestyle that is body positive.

If you do that for us, you’re a star and it is much appreciated.

London WNBR 2012

Bristol WNBR 2012

Reg

World Naked Bike Ride – Portsmouth Leg

“Many subscribers to NAG will be aware of the World Naked Bike Rides which take place globally each Summer. These fun events espouse three main causes : awareness of the world’s dependence on fossil fuels; the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads, and the promotion of public acceptability of Naturism. (the latter explains the interest of NAG in the World Naked Bike Rides).

There are, of course, many hurdles to cross: attached is a (directly taken off-screen) video of the Meridian News TV broadcast just after the Portsmouth WNBR in June 2011. ( see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGtUxQMogCU ). In this video, a local minor church officer expresses opposition to the Portsmouth WNBR. It is interesting that, whilst a local church was opposing the ride, there is a completely separate (and more enlightened!) group of Christians at www.cnfellowship.wordpress.com – the Christian Naturist Fellowship!

We would urge any supporters of Naturism, who are able to do so, to attend their local World Naked Bike Rides (locations are on the Wiki site) and, in particular, to attend the Portsmouth ride which attracted so much opposition from the local church group. – who have even set up a Government epetition against Naked Bike Rides in general (see https://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/15426 and also https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150302200687226 ).”

Posted on behalf of Ian Henden from the organising collective.

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