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Friday, June 11, 2004 - Page updated at 12:55 A.M.
Bicyclists will shed clothes in protest ride
By Tan Vinh
Rain or shine, some activists plan to show their sunny side tomorrow as part of World Naked Bike Ride Day. Seattle is one of 22 cities around the world, including Olympia and Bellingham, where riders plan to protest oil dependency and "to empower people to feel more comfortable with their bodies," said Daniel Johnson, the lead organizer of the Seattle ride.
At least 50 riders here have shown interest, although how many will ride is unclear, organizers said.
The exact route has not been determined, but riders plan to gather at noon at Gasworks Park and will probably ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail, then cross under the Aurora Bridge and head up Phinney Avenue North to Fremont. Then organizers plan to ride through Queen Anne before heading to Dexter Avenue North to the International Fountain at Seattle Center, where they plan to jump in.
Seattle police will allow the nude ride because, from a legal standpoint, being nude is not considered obscene behavior if it is at an event where nudity is expected.
Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said authorities will "monitor" the riders but will not interfere unless residents complain.
Seattle Center officials have been diplomatic, saying only that their facilities are open to the public. But signs will explain the ride is not a sponsored event.
"We will put signage around the International Fountain (saying) we anticipate these people are coming, so parents with young children can make a choice whether they want to come down," spokeswoman Kym Allen said.
Where law enforcement is concerned, most cities cope with nude public events the way Seattle police plan to. San Francisco's Bay to Breakers 12K, which draws more than 70,000 runners, many of them naked, is treated like any other race. A police spokesman did say nude runners are told to clothe themselves after crossing the finish line.
Local organizers of the Seattle ride call it a "peaceful event" and say riders will go out of their way to avoid confrontation.
An artist and activist, Johnson, 30, of Seattle, has been planning the Seattle ride since last September with Conrad Schmidt, 34, of Vancouver, B.C.
The events in Chicago and London are expected to draw about 200 nude bikers each, Schmidt said.
Schmidt, a South Africa native, is a computer programmer who has organized seven naked bike rides in Vancouver in the past two years. He hopes to make the naked ride an annual event and scoffs at his critics.
"Why is the world so afraid of naked people?" he asked. "There is nothing more peaceful than a naked person on a bicycle. We are more afraid of naked people than we are of cars and global warming and nuclear missiles. Nobody worries about these things, but people are worried about naked cyclists."
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or email@example.com
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