“World Naked Bike Ride” – San Francisco’s Weekend Ride Was a Flop | NSFW Pics by Mike Enders

Let me explain, from an outsiders perspective. I’ve seen a dozen or so naked bike rides in my life. The most recent being on a recent trip London, which had thousands of riders, chanting loud, and carrying a lot of signage with specific messages. This weekend’s World Naked Bike Ride – San Francisco was extremely under participated in. I counted around 15 men and 2 women. The women and I had a short conversation where they told me that they, who were still fully dressed, weren’t ‘feeling the vibe’ and not sure if they were going to disrobe and ride along now that they were there and the crowd of people riding was much smaller than they had thought, and all male.

The ratio of photographers and bystanders just there to take photographs of the event was much greater than riders. You can see in my photos below, photographers in the backgrounds of most of my shots, like a shark feeding frenzy on naked flesh. It felt more like a photographers workshop with a handful of naked models.

To me, the most important thing behind political marches, protests, and events like this ride bringing awareness to specific issues, is that the message needs front and center, loud and clear. At the World Naked Bike Ride – San Francisco this past Saturday, I stood back and watched peoples reaction as they approached the riders. Almost no one passing by, or stumbling on to these few naked guys, awkwardly standing around as if they were waiting for something to happen themselves, knew what the reason was for this naked spectacle. No chants, no clear signs, or clear visuals of what the hell was going on.

World Naked Bike Ride – San Francisco states: Our ride is part of a global protest taking place today in many cities throughout the US, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and other cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Tens of thousands of naked bike riders are protesting the global dependency of our society and economies at the hands of the oil cartels. We want to emphasize the harm this dependency causes to our environment, businesses and social lives. Nobody is unaffected. We want to endorse more bike riding and our nudity expresses our vulnerability to these matters. It also draws attention to our cause.

Find out more information about the ride here on their Facebook Page

Nudity most definitely grabbed the attention of many giggling pedestrians and a cause for some great selfie memories. But the core message and cause was no where to be seen or heard. Therefore I consider Saturday’s ride  flop. Plus, there was suppose to be body painting, and there was none. I cry into the palms of my hands.

I am a long time resident of San Francisco, and have seen a handful of these ‘naked guys’ at other events and often hanging out in the Castro. One thing that I have observed over and over is that most of these hardcore nudies don’t ever seem to express any joy whether it be in body language or verbally. The overall vibe at the ride start location on Saturday was glum. Thankfully a younger fellow showed up with music and bubbles to lighten the overall energy before the small group of naked people road off on bikes, roller skates, and a scooter.

I am all about expressing oneself, flying your freak flag, however one feels like they need to. But, in order to have greater success, for a community event bringing awareness to big topics like, “global dependency of our society and economies at the hands of the oil cartels, I believe the message needs to be loud clear. Or you’ll just end up being some weird naked guys in someone’s San Francisco vacation pics.

All photos by Mike Enders

5 comments

  1. I was that “younger fellow” who showed up. Definitely a disappointment for me too – I was expecting the organizers to have a lot more of the political message of why we were naked in the first place front and center. At least SOME signage would have been better than none – didn’t have time to prepare any myself, next time I know to do that. And the size of the group was dismal. This coming from someone who started doing these in Portland where thousands and thousands of people of all genders participate. Don’t get me wrong – love being naked and it was a real hoot and a holler to show up to such a spectacle of spectators and kind of take on that cheerleader role. But still, I agree with you on the majority of your points. The older dudes weren’t really feeling the joy of it. There wasn’t enough awareness of the topics at hand. And not enough riders. Next time come ride with us though!! It was way more fun once we got on the road. And the more fun we can all make this sort of thing, the more people who will actually want to get involved next time. 🙂

  2. My first WNBR in San Francisco had about 100 people in it, smiling, waving, laughing, and protesting. I’ve shown up to ride since then, and saw first-hand proof of what you mention. The core group of men are always the same — you see them at Pride, Folsom, Dore Alley, and walking around the Castro. There is always an under-current of pervy-ness, instead of celebration. I haven’t ridden again because I honestly don’t want to be associated with them. If I ride naked through a city, I want lightness and frivolity. It doesn’t show the good side of nakedness when bystanders see the opposite. I’d rather ride in Portland or Seattle.

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