by David Wraith
Some people love to ride their bicycles. Some people (like me) just love being naked. Every year since 2008, for one glorious summer night, cycling enthusiasts, enthusiastic nudists and everyone in between have come together for the World Naked Bike Ride St. Louis. If you live in St. Louis and riding a bike through the city naked (or nearly naked) is on your bucket list, you can thank the St. Louis ride’s co-founder and organizer, Stephanie Co.
David Wraith: Why would anyone in their right mind want to ride a bike naked through the streets of St. Louis?
Stephanie Co: Because it’s liberating! When you’re in such critical mass you definitely gain some courage, whether you didn’t think you could be comfortable in biking a longer distance or being naked or nearly naked in public. I’d say a lot of riders start out partially clothed and end up stripping by the end of it. Plus, St. Louis gets pretty hot in the summer… just extra incentive, really.
And, if you haven’t heard the spiel already: to raise cyclist awareness, protest oil dependency, and advocate positive body image! Because the ride is… creative, we tend to get more media exposure than some of the other mass bike rides with similar missions here in St. Louis.
What can the first time Work Naked Bike Rider expect?
A lot of fun and little judgment. We have a range of body types and athleticism, and we try to accommodate all levels of cyclists on the ride. The route is crafted to go through higher trafficked areas to get more exposure, but at the same time, we bike through streets that are accessible to cyclists at any time. In addition, we try to limit hill climbing to cater to the novice. This ride will hopefully encourage participants to ride more frequently following the ride and provide some empowerment, both with being comfortable with biking on city streets as well as being comfortable with one’s body. This ride strives to be positive in every manner.
Isn’t public nudity illegal?
Complete nudity is illegal. According to the St. Louis police (and law), showing of genitalia and nipple (for women) could be considered indecent exposure and punishable by law. Therefore we encourage cyclists to go “as bare as they dare” and be creative and fun with it.
That being said, nobody who has gone entirely nude has been approached or arrested, yet. I’d rather not push it by claiming the police will not take action, in case they have a change of heart. But in most cities, so long as you’re respectful and peaceful and NOT lewd or disruptive, you’re fine. We also suggest bringing covering in case you do have difficulties with authorities, or if you up getting separated for one reason or another and don’t feel like trekking back alone without anything on.
What inspired you to bring the WNBR to St. Louis?
What inspired me? Being unable to be in Chicago for their WNBR, and a roommate who was up for the challenge. I think any events that indicate St. Louis is becoming a less conservative and more progressive city is good. And I’m tired of people moving to San Francisco or New York when our city is just as great if not greater.
I also think anything that promotes cycling is a plus for St. Louis. As an avid cyclist myself who grew up around Chicago, it’s surprising to me to see how connected people are with their cars here in an urban environment. Demonstrating what a positive alternative biking can be as the main mode of transportation is perhaps what I’d most like to achieve through this event. If the ride even gets a handful of people cycling more on a regular basis, it’s done its duty.
The World Naked Bike Ride St. Louis is Saturday, June 11th. The festivities being at 7pm in the Commerce Bank parking lot at Grand and Hartford. The ride begins promptly at 9pm and goes to The Atomic Cowboy in The Grove where there will be an after party. The route can be found here.