Sunday 15 June 2008

World Naked Bike Ride

Yesterday saw one of Britain's more colourful regular mobilisations hit the streets of the capital. Yes, it was that time of year again for the World Naked Bike Ride. This year an estimated 2,000 cyclists assembled under the traditional battle cry 'as bare as you dare' and took a six mile tour around central London. By all accounts there were no arrests (when was the last time you heard of a riot at a nudist colony?) and generally the event was considered a success.

Those of us used to doing politics with our clothes on might be left wondering what the point of it all was, aside from having a bit of a laugh for a few hours. According to the official wiki page, the organisers are against oil dependency and curbing car culture, for demonstrating the vulnerability of cyclists on the roads, for obtaining real rights for cyclists and celebrating the freedom of the human body. Their "real rights for bikes" include making streets safer for cyclists, the introduction of cycle-only zones in cities and two-way cycle lanes. They are also for a ban on car advertising.

As a series of objectives to bring together as wide a number of naked people as possible they will do as a starting point. Socialists have long been keen on extending public transport and therefore tackling car culture by proxy. But to explicitly critique the cult of the car has traditionally been seen as a green preoccupation. It need not be. The pollution caused by traffic and the victims of road accidents disproportionately fall on working class people. See for example this post on Socialist Unity. With the astronomical rise in petrol the issue of car use is increasingly becoming a class issue.

Socialists would recommend more radical and far reaching measures than the demands of the WNBR, but where was an organised left presence? Did any comrade get their kit off except for a collecting tin and a bag of papers and try and sell copies of The Socialist, Socialist Worker, etc. ? If not I might be persuaded to scare the pigeons next year if I can convince a group of comrades to join me ...

To save searching for photos of yesterday's ride some are available here and here. Loads more from previous years can be seen here.


Anonymous said...

The pollution caused by traffic and the victims of road accidents disproportionately fall on working class people.

Indeed. But the politics don't stop there. Car culture has a lot in common with home ownership "aspirations". It's a force for atomisation, gets people focused on improving and defending their own little castle (in this case, mobile castle) and their individual place within the system.

It promotes individualist thinking in a very material way, and has always been championed by those who would seek to undermine class identity and collective struggles. It's not a coincidence that Thatcher called bus passengers losers.

Phil said...

I completely agree with you, Complex. In the late 80s a 'Motorists' Party' emerged in Switzerland and headed down the right wing populist road. They were anti-environment, anti-EC, anti-public transport, pro-market, etc. Generally speaking, not a very nice bunch.

Leftwing Criminologist said...

wow, this is like you're equivalent post to my one or wargaming except for what would at first seem an even more unusual topic for socialists to discuss - agree with what you are saying though.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem particularly unusual to me - I doubt there were many not 'of the left' at the Naked Bike Ride!

steven rix said...

The right did not take part in this event because they did not know where to put their jewelry with them ;)

In a french nudist camp: let's have a drink! Then once the guys get into the pub, one of the guys try to find his rear left pocket and shouts "I forgot again my wallet!"

Anonymous said...

A worthwhile cause, although perhaps a little at odds with socialism: a bicycle is private property, is it not? A particularly hard vehicle to nationalise and one that generates few jobs compare to a tube line.

Still, I'd certainly have come along if I hadn't have been busy that day protesting Scientology.

Phil said...

Not really - socialists only have a problem with *bourgeois* property, that is to use the classical formulation, private property in the means of production.

On bikes, I would imagine in the new society there would be public dispensaries not unlike those available in Amsterdam. Except you won't have to pay for them.

Anonymous said...

i wasnt aware this event was on but i did see a couple of danglers on bikes whilst roaming through covent garden market on saturday... put it down to petti-bourgeois deviants. they didnt look too comfortable to me, neither did everyone else for that matter.

not convinced saving the planet is worth the sight of old cock , i await the debate tho.