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Portland Police won’t bust naked riders, as long they go with the flow

Posted by on June 23rd, 2017 at 11:48 am

Official graphic from Portland Police Bureau.

Our local version of the World Naked Bike Ride isn’t just an amazing cycling spectacle and one of the largest clothing-free rides on the planet, it’s also an illustration of what makes our city so great. That is, the level of coordination and respect between volunteer ride organizers and the Portland Police Bureau is something to be proud of.

For years now, ride organizers have worked very closely with Police staff on route selection and other details. Both are trying to strike a balance between free, unfettered fun and safe and civil behaviors that don’t cause too many issues for everyone involved. These negotiations and compromises are why we don’t see the route spend as much time downtown anymore and why there’s a big push to attend one of the many free after-parties instead of hanging out in a huge crowd at the finish line. Police and ride volunteers meet months in advance to trade concerns and hash out differences.

But there’s one compromise more important than any other: The fact that the police are willing to look the other way when they see fully nude adult bodies rolling gleefully down our public streets. Yes, technically it’s illegal to for adults to be naked in public if there’s someone of the opposite sex within view. Of course this law isn’t ironclad and there are court precedents around free speech and protest; but the police could make the Naked Bike Ride a lot less naked if they really wanted to (sort of like how they could have let Critical Mass continue if they would have permitted the illegal — but safe and entirely reasonable — practice of allowing large groups to roll through stop signs; but I digress).

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Today the Portland Police issued the following official statement to clarify their position on this issue:

In past years, this event has drawn an estimated 10,000 bicycle riders. According to the World Naked Bike Ride website, the event is an annual, worldwide bike ride that highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport.

The Portland Police Bureau will have officers dedicated to the event to ensure everyone is safe and to provide assistance at intersections. There may be short traffic delays and drivers or non-participants are asked in advance for their patience.

Portland City Code 14A.40.030 (Indecent Exposure) states the following:

It is unlawful for any person to expose his or her genitalia while in a public place or place visible from a public place, if the public place is open or available to persons of the opposite sex.

Although many participants may violate the letter of the Portland City Code, the Police Bureau will be exercising discretion for this protest event as long as participants stay on the route with the rest of the riders. People who “start early” and potentially disrupt other neighborhood events not associated with the official ride may not receive the same discretion.

At a bare minimum, the Portland Police Bureau recommends that riders at least wear a helmet and shoes to avoid any potential injuries. Bike lights are also highly recommended for riders as well as plenty of water or fluids.

“Bare minimum.” Get it? They’re even having some fun with it.

With so much bad behavior by police and with high tensions among those we trust to uphold the law and those we expect to abide by them; it’s nice to know there are still avenues for respect and cooperation.

For more on what happens behind the scene of the Naked Bike Ride, see our story from last year.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Matthew in Portsmouth
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Matthew in Portsmouth

I love participating in this event. I do not, however, get in the spirit and out of my clothes until I reach the starting point, and I put my clothes back on when I prepare to leave. Not being a drinker, the after parties are not my thing, but go for it if you feel like it.

If you choose to participate, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be the superlative of any adjective you can think of (thinnest, fattest, ugliest, prettiest etc.).

It’s great that it’s going to be a warm night.

The hat passers will be there to raise money for the event – my rule of thumb is $5 per article of clothing you are going to wear on the ride – in my case that’s my helmet, socks and shoes.

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

I’d like to hear a statement of leadership by the mayor. Beforehand.

VRU
Guest
VRU

This piece is factually incorrect.

Public nudity without the intent to arouse is recognized as a form of constitutionally protected speech in OR. Moreover, legal precedent indicates that the Portland ordinance does not apply to nudity that is “intended as a protected symbolic or communicative act”.

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5604655440603670467&hl=en&as_sdt=6,38

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=3994794089534479082&hl=en&as_sdt=6,38

https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/163.465

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And there’s always something to protest: PBA, PBR (tastes as nasty as the PBA does), new bike lanes that aren’t 30ft wide, shuttle bus drivers at the zoo, car drivers at the zoo, bicycles at the zoo, music selection at the zoo, small trees at ugly developments, bike lanes that go both ways on one side of the street, Amanda Fritz, being punched in the head and having your bike stolen, beards, Republicans, dogs that bark at cats, Big Oil, Little Oil, squirrels (cute, tasty, but oh so hard to catch), and, well, I could go on for some time.

Suffice it to say, I’m covered if the police decide to go all anti-naked on us.

Bilbo
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Bilbo

That fake law is transphobic.

Justin M
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Justin M

Another year goes by and again I can’t go. They scheduled this ride on the same day as my wedding and I somehow doubt my conservative Mormon family, already attending my gay wedding, would be up for us riding away naked at the end of it. Plus, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of clean up to do when the party’s over. Oh well, ya’ll have fun for me.

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

PPB is only partially correct here. Because it’s legal being naked if you are exercising your right to free speech (as per the Oregon constitution, as cited above).

If you want to be legal riding naked anywhere, anytime, in Oregon, you need to be actively exercising your right to free speech. So, if you have any particular issue you’re concerned or passionate about, be ready to let anyone who asks know. Or just write/paint it on your body so nobody even needs to ask.

And, to keep it well within the law, call attention to your cause (not your body) when interacting with clothed folks, stay off private property, be nice, etc.

Also, this:
https://bikeportland.org/2008/11/12/judge-throws-out-charges-in-naked-biking-case-says-it%E2%80%99s-a-%E2%80%9Cwell-established-tradition%E2%80%9D-in-portland-10676

FWIW
Ted Buehler

Steve Scarich
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Steve Scarich

‘so much bad behavior by police’…geez, Jonathan, your bias is just so attractive.

q
Guest
q

The headlines claims police won’t bust naked riders, but last year I witnessed numerous busts.

Hotrodder
Guest
Hotrodder

Good route, good afterparty in the fountain, great spectators ready to slap hands all along the route. The usual buzzkill comments over on Oregon Live.
See you all at Loud and Lit this Friday!!!

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

I’ve run into this event two years in a row now while trying to get home at night alone on my bike. I understand that the impulse behind it is good natured, but it’s kind of creepy.

Matthew in Portsmouth
Guest
Matthew in Portsmouth

This was my third year, thoroughly enjoyed the ride. There were people of all ages and body types participating. I saw a pre-teen boy riding with his dad (I’m guessing) and plenty of people in the 20 – 65+ age groups. Saw some very fit, athletic bodies, as well as plenty of people carrying extra weight – one of the aims of the protest is to promote body positivity.

The evening was warm, so it was comfortable to strip off and hang out in Fernhill Park before hand, and the ride was comfortable. Fernhill is closer to where I live than the last two starting locations so that was a bonus. I thought the crowd was exceptionally mellow and well behaved. I smelled pot smoke from time to time, but nobody appeared to be overtly intoxicated. The only beverage on sale appeared to be Yerba Mate, and they were assiduously collecting the empty cans.

We set off at 9 p.m. and headed towards NE Sandy, over the Burnside Bridge, down Third Ave, left at the Federal Courthouse and into the Waterfront Park. My only problem was my rear tire started to leak (faulty valve stem I think) – I had checked my bike over during the afternoon, so I was kind of annoyed (I must have damaged the stem when I was pumping the tire). I noticed this at 8.45, and had to make the decision – inflate and hope for the best, or change the tube. I inflated and hoped for the best – only had to reinflate once on NE Sandy Blvd, but thrice more before I got home.

A lot of people ride naked to the event and home again – my husband doesn’t like me to do this (I think he thinks I’ll get arrested), so I kept my gear on until I got to the park, and rerobed before heading home.

There were a lot of voyeurs (fully clothed, no bike) at Fernhill Park, I suggested to the volunteer donation collectors that they ask them for $100. I mean, if you’re nude in public you have no expectation of privacy, but really, it’s not meant to be an opportunity to be a looky loo.

I volunteered to help clean up Fernhill on Sunday. I was really pleased that the park was in really good shape. The volunteers who stayed to clean up after the protest set off did a really great job at cleaning up after everyone. Plus I think that most people didn’t bring anything to leave behind, and there were no food vendors, so I guess that helps.

A great time had by all.

Matthew, Colorado
Guest
Matthew, Colorado

My wife and I are working here in the PNW temporarily. We heard about the ride and it sounded like great fun. It was! Great fun!! I loved the way the police shut down the intersections to keep us safe. I heard one clothed guy, camera in hand, at Fernhill Park say “It’s just an excuse for the guys to run around naked.” I noticed that he attended a cycling event without a bicycle. I wonder what his excuse was? Anyway, thanks Portland for helping us get weird! Best city ever!

Rod
Guest
Rod

All of u should be arrested for corruption of minors. White people are something else. Blacks get shot dead jogging in one state, arrested for pants sagging in another , and whites are so empowered that that can get on a bike, buck naked, and ride in front of minors claiming they’re “protesting”
, excusing themselves as being “without intent to arouse”..arouse whom? An onlooker, or other riders? Well if that’s the case, having sex outside should be legal, as long as the couple claims they have no intent to arouse anyone!
The MAIN ONES pushing that we all strip naked are the homosexual community. That’s why it just so happens to be in June. But I’m sure they will claim its for another reason.

If you want to be naked among others, fine. Forcing others to see you in public streets isn’t your “free speech” its forced listening. U have a right to speak. You DONT have a right to place me in a spot where I am forced to
This isn’t about religion or atheism. GOP or democrat. This is about forcing ypur sexual addiction upon others

If this is Ok, can school teachers show up naked in protest of a bad contract, and teach little kids? They can claim they promise not to arouse..is that OK?
This last illustration is the nail in the coffin, so all you now can do is insult me personally…watch..

Rod
Guest
Rod

It shows you the flip flop behavior of white America. I had to remove all the caps from my comment so it wouldn’t be flagged by moderation bots. And its a story about you low level whites riding biles buck naked in the street. Caps are offensive..but your buck naked people riding bikes in the 10s of thousands in front of minors isn’t.
The lgbt gay pride parade, which is what this actually is, has always been about pedophilia. It once Included the man boy love association. Their parade videos were sold in adult book stores. Because they are about sex, not “civil Rights”

I cant imagine if blacks were protesting naked in Portland! You white people would shoot us all down.