Ruckus Warehouse Sale

Naked Ride organizers stress over costs (let’s help them out!)

Posted by on June 16th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

World Naked Bike Ride - Portland-16

Imagine if each one of them donated $5.
Click here to donate
(Photo © J. Maus)

Last Saturday night, 1% of Portland’s population reveled in the World Naked Bike Ride. 5,000 people enjoyed it by bike (or on roller skates, skateboards, etc…), and thousands of others did so either by seeing it live and/or by enjoying the reports and photos online.

By all measures, the event’s success was an exciting watershed moment in Portland’s cultural history.

But behind the scenes, the celebration has been muted. As a very small core of volunteers recover from the intense amount of work it took to plan and pull off the party and the ride, they also face debt from costly permits, licenses, porta-potties, bike racks, decorations, and so on.

Story continues below


“They worked themselves to the point of near collapse to provide us with a legendary party. For free. For the love of bikes and for the love of our community.”
— Brad Reber, friend of Naked Ride/Party organizers

Believe it or not, the entire event was put on by a few, extremely dedicated citizens who devoted themselves to providing Portland with an amazing night of free bike fun. There was no deep-pocketed non-profit or sponsor that picked up the tab.

The budget for the ride was $2,000, but organizers say, despite their best planning attempts, it ended up costing much more.

The sale of beer at the party is usually the main way to pay the bill, but this year, after a key beer sponsor did not come through as expected in the last minute, planners were left scrambling. A new beer sponsor stepped up, but organizers still ran out (11 kegs were sold) so they did not make as much in beer sales as they hoped.

Pedalpalooza rolls along, but these volunteer heroes still have bills to pay.

Brad Reber, who is friends with several of the organizers, wrote on the Shift email list that the event,

“…consumed nearly every non-work moment of their lives for several months. They worked themselves to the point of near collapse to provide us with a legendary party. For free. For the love of bikes and for the love of our community.”

Meghan Sinnott, the lead organizer of the event, left a comment on this site yesterday that everyone should read.

So here’s the deal. Let’s try and raise some money. Let’s make sure those volunteers don’t have to stress about bills when they should be enjoying an epic Pedalpalooza.

Plans for next year are already in the works. And, given the amount of publicity and excitement Saturday’s ride generated, organizers are planning for 10,000 riders and a party that can accomodate 4-5,000 people. It won’t be cheap.

Do it for the volunteers.
Do it for the naked biking that was, and the naked biking that is to come.
Do it because you had the time of your life.
Do it for Portland.

(Link goes to PayPal and donations go to Umbrella, the non-profit that facilitated the event.)

*Update: Organizers say that anyone who donates at least $500 will get a free Brooks bike saddle (so your bare bum can ride in style next year!).

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • mmann June 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Any possibility they can also collect donations at the bike fair on June 27, maybe a big sign explaining the need with the title “Did you get Naked?

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  • Lillian June 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Jonathan. Beer sales raised so money on the night of the event, but we’ve still got a long way to go to recover from our budget shortfall.

    Why not give a dollar for each day of Pedalpalooza? It’s hard to put a price on bike fun, but why not try a dollar a day? That’s $17.

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  • twistyaction June 16, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Is the ride/party “run” by an organization that can claim non-profit status? I know that forming such an organization with the proper non-profit designation can allow sponsors to legally donate to support the ride. I can’t believe that with all the goodwill and attention at the time of the event, there was not more opportunity for the participants to contribute financially. Seems like a big missed opportunity. I know that a relatively few people worked really hard to pull this off, and it was an amazing event culturally for Portland, but this seems like a pretty big oversight to be surprised to come out 200% short for costs that were mostly all known well before anyone took their clothes off. How about making up some commemerative socks (since you can still wear them and be considered naked) that can be sold to cover the costs?

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  • the "other" steph June 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan!
    And for anyone who gives $500, we have a sweet, sweet Brooks Saddle for you, lovingly donated by . . . you guessed it . . . Brooks Saddles.

    #3 Twistyaction: first, Umbrella is a nonprofit org. with tax-exempt status that provides fiscal sponsorship (but not financial support) to the Kickoff Party. Organizers had known that there was a budget deficit and put a call out to a number of businesses, to media, and to individuals via the Shift list last week.
    Regarding commemorative socks, Sock Dreams was one of the Party’s donors (and we love them), and there are 2 commemorative Saddles available (see earlier in this post). Does that answer your questions?

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  • Gabriel McGovern June 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I didn’t even have the chance to attend, but just threw down $20. A small price to keep this event going.

    Thanks for posting this and thanks to all the volunteers. See you next year!

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  • steve June 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    For next year, how about everyone just meets somewhere, gets naked and goes for a ride. No permits, no police blocking the route to force us down certain streets, no overly crowded and apparently unsustainable party.

    Should cost a hundred bucks or so for some posters around town. Why make it so difficult? Do we really need people working themselves to death for months and then going into debt, simply so we can ride our bikes around naked?

    Click and donate everyone, I just did. Maybe a different plan for next year though. Just sayin.

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  • hanmade June 16, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I couldn’t make the event but I threw $10 in anyway. All of you readers could probably do the same. Let’s help these people not only break even, but make a little for next time.

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  • Paul Tay June 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    The story and plea for help is posted on Tulsa Bike Palooza.

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  • Matt Picio June 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    twistyaction (#3) – the dance party is sponsored by Umbrella, an Oregon 501(c)(3) corporation which sponsors projects which reclaim and re-purpose public space and create community. Umbrella provided insurance for the event and all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

    If/when the donations exceed the cost of the event, the remainder will be applied to next year’s event. Umbrella is also the sponsor of Multnomah County Bike Fair and a partial sponsor of Shift.

    Thanks, everyone for your donations and support!

    Matt Picio

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  • Minna June 16, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I haven’t been able to make it the last two years, but just donated a little bit as well.

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled next time for any volunteering/fundraising that could be done in preparation of the event. F’rinstance, I’d be happy to knit up some merkins or something…

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  • peejay June 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I’m kickin’ in, and I’ll go chase down all the friends I encouraged to ride to do the same.

    I mean, you can’t beat the value, can you? It was certainly better than any partying that was going on at any of those nightclubs that night, because after paying the cover, all the guests spent the night out on the sidewalk, watching us!

    Huge thanks to all the organizers and volunteers. I’ll do my time next year no doubt.

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  • peejay June 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm


    For a less organized naked ride, there’s always the one that happens right after MCBF. Why choose? Let’s have both!

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  • Matt Picio June 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    steve (#6) – Sure, how would you suggest routing 10,000 cyclists? That’s exactly how it was done 3 years ago when there were only 400 people on the WNBR, and no one really knew about it.

    Last year, 2 people had their bikes crushed by a truck, cars cut through the line of cyclists and put people in danger, and there were a number of altercations between motorists and cyclists – when there were 2,000 people on the ride.

    WNBR has grown 50%-150% per year every year since it started. This year it was big enough to require a police presence, and that presence made it a much safer event.

    I’m not trying to get on your case, and thank you for the donation! I’m just saying that even without a party, the ride next year will be gigantic – if there isn’t some kind of structure and management, the odds that someone gets seriously hurt or killed go way up. If I knew in advance that I could prevent a death because we worked with the cops, got all the permits, etc – I’d do it in a heartbeat, and I think most of us would.

    One final point – $6,000 works out to $1.25 for each person on the ride, or about $5 per person who got into the party. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not that much – and the party provides a space where 5,000 people can get ready to ride (which takes the better part of an hour) without blocking traffic. If everyone just meets somewhere, that location is likely to be somewhere that disrupts traffic and promotes a police response – and not one of the good kind.

    Unless fewer people ride naked, the options are work with the city and the Police Bureau, or see the police come out in force – because they are required to respond. PPB has shown a remarkable amount of cooperation in the past year, and a real willingness to work with the community on issues like large rides. I don’t know about you, but I’d like that to continue.

    If you want a “small” naked ride with no structure or planning, we STILL have you covered – the Daytime WNBR (50-100 people) and the post-MCBF Naked Ride (27 people last year, and probably 50+ this year)

    Thanks for the donation and the input, steve – you have a very valid opinion and I just want to point out that there are lots of options.

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  • KJ June 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    hey Shifties: I have had two people at my office today (OMSI) ask about t-shirts( or bandannas, that was brought up too) with this year’s poster image on it. I just brought a few posters in this morning. I am sure it’s been thought of, but yearly collectible unique local artist designed pedalpalooza t’s? Would those raise some money for Shift or the Naked Ride costs? I’d buy one. =)

    Anyone want to create a bake sale booth for MCBF for proceeds to go to this cause? Is it too late to try to organize such a thing? If not, I might try to organize one.

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  • Bill June 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    From Jennifer’s post on another topic: “A lone protester shares his temporal anguish with riders:

    Thanks to the person who tried to reason with this crazy person. As participants of the ride we should always look out for each others safety. If you see bystanders being too touchy or creepy, peacefully help resolve the issue. If anyone on the ride needs help, shout out and someone be there for you. We’re all in this together — make new friend with your support and chivary!

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  • K'Tesh June 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Can’t contribute from this computer (butt I’ll get one in tonight)

    I’d make a suggestion… Perhaps one of those scales that show the progress towards the goal (like a thermometer)could be uploaded?

    Just an idea…

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  • Jason June 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Hey I like KJ’s idea. I’d love a t-shirt to sport around town in.

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  • John Thomas June 16, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    The organizers didn’t know what they were doing?

    I’m shocked, shocked and dismayed! That’s so out of character.

    People who care about bike issues around Portland would be better off giving their money to Bob Tiernan or wiping their ass with the money.

    Thanks once again for making it more difficult to get bike commuting accepted by ordinary folks.

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  • Gabriel McGovern June 16, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Must… not… respond… to …. John’s flamebait….

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) June 16, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    The organizers didn’t know what they were doing?”

    they did actually know quite well what they were doing. they just had a small budget and a huge turnout… two things that don’t always go great together.

    as for the other part of your comment. no comment.

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  • Coldswim June 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I don’t know if anyone’s familiar with pdxkayaker, but once a year we rent out a place and throw a party for all the whitewater kayakers in the area. We have a beer sponsor, but most of the costs are paid for from tshirt and dvd sales. We’d get our name on a list and pick up the swag at Next Adventure the next week. That way we wouldn’t have to carry stuff with us at the party and Next Adventure liked it cus it got more people visting the store.

    As far as the dvd, people would submit homemade movies/video related to whitewater kayaking and a review board would compile the best of them onto a dvd that you could buy for about $10. The video would also be shown at the party. What about setting up something similar where people submit their own biking videos (nude bike themed? don’t know about legal implications there) and show it at the party, with the option to buy the dvd? With recordable dvd’s around 50cents that’d be a $9.50 profit.

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  • Peter Noone June 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Has the total amount spent this year been posted anywhere (sorry if I missed it)? How about the amount left needed in donations to meet that total?

    Fund raising for next year should be a separate initiative, IMHO.

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  • Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I was at Saturday market the day of the ride and a sizeable group of naked riders came through. I have no objection if folks want to ride naked at a reasonable hour when it’s unlikely that small kids will be exposed to it, but I thought these riders were insensitive and rude to parents who were at the market with their kids. We all have to share public spaces and part of that is respecting others by moderating our behavior regardless of whether we agree that our behavior needs such moderating.

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  • Peter Noone June 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I actually think @John/16 makes an interesting point, even if he does so in an inflammatory way. There is a ceiling on the number of people who can be brought into the “bike community” via this kind of publicity. I’m guessing that ceiling is fairly low, relatively speaking. Of course, people should do The Right Thing for The Right Reason(s), but that’s not how The Real World works. Perceptions matter.

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  • Kt June 16, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve been on the organizing side of other kinds of events. I know how much time, money, blood sweat and tears goes into putting on even a small event.

    I don’t want to disparage the organizers of this event. They did a great job overcoming a lot of challenges.

    If they are forecasting 10,000 riders next year, maybe it is time they considered charging an entry fee– even something as small as $5.00 per person, make it a suggested donation.

    Sponsors only get you so far– and there isn’t enough money laying around in this economy (or next year’s) for the size of sponsorship they are going to need.

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  • Kirk June 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    You just got $20 from me. I like the idea of a donation/admission next year.


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  • xorbit June 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    i will probably donate some money.

    ironically, i never even got into the party… 🙁 (meghan herself said the words “at capacity!” to the crowd at the door where i stood… luckily there was plenty of party in the street!)

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  • peejay June 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I’m rather appalled about people who wish to shield little children – who like to spend a lot of their time naked – from nudity. You are one step – ok, a couple of steps – away from requiring headscarves on women.

    I am also sick of those people who claim that everything any bicyclist does must first pass some kind of image test for the greater good of cycling. We’re all just people. Some – a lot! – of us get naked once or twice a year. Big flying whoop. I don’t think it affects whether someone chooses to commute by bicycle for the first time, unless they have some incredibly repressed body image and want to live in a country ruled by mullahs.

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  • Matt Picio June 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Peter (#24) – that’s a valid point in the larger discussion about perception, but the World Naked Bike Ride isn’t meant to bring more people into the “bike community”, it’s a protest event.

    Granted, an argument could be made that it’s evolving into something else entirely in Portland – more a celebration of freedom than a protest against vulnerability in the face of cars.

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  • Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    PeeJay, careful who you are calling a facist, it’s more than just a little hypocritical. One definition is someone who thinks his standards should be the only standards and anybody who disagrees with those standards is wrong. The golden rule is not to treat others as you would like to be treated, but to treat them as they would like to be treated.

    Speaking of headscarves, you are the one who wants to impose a standard on others without their consent. When reasonable people have differing standards they make reasonable accommodation. If people want to ride naked at night when most kids are at home or in bed, reasonable people shouldn’t have a problem with that. It is also not too much to ask people to make the small sacrifice of keeping their genitals covered on a Saturday afternoon in Waterfront Park out of respect for other folks who don’t share their views on public nudity.

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  • Mark Allyn June 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    How about a professional club like the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle?

    I was a volunteer with Cascade back in the 1990’s. In fact, I was the one who announced the weekly rides for their ride line.

    What impressed me was the very professional manner in which they conduct group rides.

    Sure, their larger rides charge an admission. Look at STP, which has it’s finish line right here in Portland, at Holliday Park near Lloyd center.

    Perhaps if we manage WNBR the say way that Cascade manages STP, we might have something.

    For example, charge $5.00 for each rider; 10 for those who want to go into the party. Have vendors sell food, T shirts, etc.

    If some of you go to the STP finish line area at Holliday Park, they have all types of vendors including bike shops, bike touring companies, energy bars, etc.

    I think that if we ran WNBR the same way; ie; have booths at the party where vendors can sell stuff and the WNBR taking a commission as Cascade does, then perhaps we might have something that is sustainable.


    (Mark Allyn)

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  • peejay June 16, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Hey anonymous:

    Don’t tell me what to wear or not to wear. And don’t accuse me of calling anyone a fascist. deleted by commented to save Jonathan the trouble

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  • steve June 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I refuse to live my life in deference to your children. You chose to bring them into this world, not me.

    It is ridiculous to expect society to function in a manner that panders to children. Why should the perfectly legal actions of others be restricted for your ideals of a child oriented utopia?

    Save the Earth, stop breeding.

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  • steve June 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    In addition, please stop telling people which hours you feel it appropriate for them to be naked. If it is legal at midnight, it is legal at 10 in the morning.

    The awesome thing is, there is nothing you can do about it!

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  • Spencer Boomhower June 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I just donated a penny per naked person.

    What an amazing effort on the part of the organizers. Especially considering 1) it was so much bigger than last year’s ride, and 2) it’s not like they had an RSVP list to tell them how many were going to show up. Well done!

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  • peejay June 17, 2009 at 12:06 am


    Yup! Agree. (this time)

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Hey Peejay and Steve, lighten up. I am not telling people what they can and can’t wear. I suggested that people exercise a little self restraint out of the deference to the feelings of others. I would argue just as strongly against anyone who suggested it was inappropriate for a group of consenting adults to have a naked bike ride at 9 p.m. It may be your right to be obnoxious, but don’t expect to not get called on it.

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

    “The awesome thing is, there is nothing you can do about it!”

    No, they can do any number of things to change the law as it stands.

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  • April June 17, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Bill: That was Theo. Theo is awesome.

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  • Peter Noone June 17, 2009 at 8:57 am


    You and I both know it doesn’t matter what the event was “meant” to do. The general public isn’t going to get it (in general).

    Let me make it clear that I personally have no issue with people riding around nude at any time of day or night. I only said that @John/16 has an interesting point, not that I agree with him.

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  • peejay June 17, 2009 at 9:21 am

    “…out of the deference of the feelings of others…” Man, there’s a lot of sh*t that can fit into that! For instance, two men holding hands in public can be very offensive to some homophopic bigots. Should they refrain from doing so out of deference of the feelings of others? A black man with a white woman can upset the feelings of some people. What should they do there?

    The particular sensitivities of over-protective parents do not need to be deferred to always. The urban environment is a rich experience because one might see something unusual on any given day. A once-yearly daytime naked bike ride is not abnormal, inconsiderate, or unhealthy, in that context. It’s not a crime, nor should it be. It’s not meant to be representative of any larger group,, nor should it be.

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  • grimm June 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

    This is kind of terribly timing financially for me, but I gave what I could.

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  • Brad June 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

    peejay (#41) You like riding naked and expressing your “freedom” to do so. Cool. We get it.

    Riding (or running, walking, skating, etc.) nude in public actually IS A CRIME under indecent exposure statutes. Thankfully, our leaders choose not to enforce the law for this one event so that fun can be had. Out of respect for their latitude, we need to reasonably honor the sensibilities of the larger public. That means showing some common sense and restraint.

    Cruise through the Saturday Market legally in a thong if you wish but save “The Full Monty” for later that evening. While I personally find this ride amusing and harmless, I don’t want to wait in line for an elephant ear with my four year old daughter surrounded my junk dangling riders. It’s also for these reasons that most of us don’t want nudists hanging out in our offices, libraries, playgrounds, or near daycare centers. As an “over-protective” parent, I’d like my little girl to enjoy a few more years of innocence before I have to explain what a genital piercing or an “attention whore” is.

    I have yet to see anyone on this thread suggest The Naked Ride be outlawed. I am sorry that you are offended by the fact that most people don’t share your sense of fun nor want to see Naked Bicycle Day at their market, mall, church, school, sidewalk cafe or park. That’s in no way fascist, racist, or homophobic.

    With freedom comes great responsibility. Why do you object to a bit of responsibility?

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  • Anon June 17, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Peejay, Peter and Steve need to shut up and donate some money – there, I said it.

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  • Andrew June 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hey! So how much is left to raise and is there a non-electronic way to donate?
    My attorney has advised me to operate on a cash only basis:)

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  • Vance Longwell June 17, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I live on less than $5 per day of food. My $5 donation means that I have to skip four meals to make this donation. Me. Quite easily the least rational, biggest jerk that comments here regularly.

    While I appreciate the position of the dissenters, the picture is largish. Before bikes, before budgets, before delicate sensibilities, there is freedom. While we all watch the entirety of this nation doing it wrong you and your neighbors saddled-up clad in very little more than said freedom; and did the thing that we do here. If this bruises the image of cyclists, it’s a badge of honor to me.

    Thanks to all.

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  • Peter Noone June 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

    @Anon/44 I’d still like to some disclosure on the total expenditure and the amount still left to be covered. I’m interested in making a large-ish donation, but I’m wary of open-ended pleas for donations.

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  • TofuTodd June 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I don’t know how I feel about donating, on the one hand it is fun party, but on the other hand isn’t there better things for bicycle advocacy we can do with $5000? Why does the WNBR need so much red tape? Why can’t it just be like critical mass?

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  • peejay June 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm


    Why can’t it just be like critical mass? Because we don’t want a naked ride with about three riders, is why.

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  • revphil June 18, 2009 at 1:25 am

    the freedom of expression can often be summarized in the expression, “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

    In the context of WNBR this could be, “Your right to ride naked ends where my nose begins.” Which sounds pretty reasonable to me. Even though plenty of people would line up to get their face beaten with cyclist genitalia it seems to be a good stance to not force that behavior on anyone.

    Thus naked bikers ride their bikes, and while their evil, shameful parts are not hidden from view they are also not invading ones private space.

    Brad, I’m glad you want to protect your daughter, but I do take exception to your characterization of what “most people” desire. The reaction to the naked rides has been overwhelmingly positive, so it would seem the general public wants more genital pubic.

    Perhaps this article can help frame the debate:

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  • Brad June 18, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Rev. Phil – I agree with you that most people standing downtown alongside the road at 9:00 PM on a Saturday night don’t have much issue at all with WNBR. If you want to test your theory and prove me wrong, then gather a few hundred nude bike riding friends to ride the Starlight Parade or Grand Floral Parade route just ahead of the parade. That should provide an excellent and more complete demographic cross section of Portland.

    Report how that works out and I’ll be sure to read the papers and blogs the following day to check levels of public tolerance.

    If you are right and the vast majority of people have no issues with public nudity, then we’ll see lots of naked co-workers around the office, disrobed pastors at the pulpit on Sundays, and just plain folks letting it all hang out at Starbuck’s while waiting for their vanilla latte.

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  • Anonymous June 18, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    It’s called community standards.

    Based on the community’s tolerance or intolerance to a situation.

    That’s why each community has different laws pertaining to public nudity.

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  • revphil June 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    im talking about the daytime ride. The reports lead me to believe the vast majority of people were in favor of the naked ride in that case as well.

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