*Images of the 2018 World Naked Bike Ride by Sony Ericsson.
Far from a fringe bike ride, Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride has become a legitimate — dare I say, mainstream — event.
The ride turns 15 this year. And just in case you want to mark your calendar, organizers say June 29th is the date of the 2019 edition.
What started as a somewhat renegade affair with just over 100 riders in 2004, the ride now draws around 8,000 to 10,000 people, all of whom show up in varying levels of nudity (the ride’s motto is “Bare as you dare”).
The evolution and maturity of the ride mirrors its growth curve. It’s a well-oiled machine with a large and dedicated team of organizers who can boast of long-term, working relationships with the Portland Police Bureau, the Bureau of Transportation, corporate sponsors, media partner the Portland Mercury, and even our local tourism board, Travel Portland.
Yesterday we heard from one of the lead organizers, Meghan Sinnott, who got in touch to put some key info on our radar to get the planning wheels turning for this year’s ride.
First and foremost, Meghan wanted to let everyone know that the ride happens almost completely due to individual donations from people like you. It takes about $9,000 to put it on and without the sponsorship from individuals and the two main sponsors, The Portland Mercury and Berkshire Ginsberg Law, the World Naked Bike Ride would likely cease to exist.
Volunteers are also vital. And more are needed for 2019. The volunteer sign-up sheet is now live and Meghan says they’re adding more ride marshals and “end-spot greeters” to help keep participants informed. In addition to crowd-control related volunteers, there’s also a need for higher-level duties. If you have experience in things like permitting, vendor relations, graphic design, and volunteer coordination, Meghan would love to hear from you.
Speaking of design, you might have noticed that WNBR stepped up their swag game last year. There were patches, handprinted handkerchiefs, limited edition posters, and more. If you have a body-positive bike-lover on your holiday list, all the items are available right now in their online store.
Another thing that sets this ride apart are the talented special guests. Last year there was a live band and professional body painters at the start to help get people in the mood, the enchanted Disco Kitty set the scene at the end, and local jugglers provided even more visual stimulation.
This year Meghan says she and the crew have teamed up with Young, Gifted, and Black, a “Pro-Black, Pro-Femme, Pro-Queer” group whose mission is to, “Create spaces of joy and healing for the Black and Brown community of Portland and who believes that, “liberation will come from art, self-love and community.” The WNBR crew has already worked with this group to help spread the search for an artist to create the official event poster.
How the ride gets marketed shapes public opinion about what it stands for and who is welcome to participate in it.
Travel Portland is a big part of that. Earlier this year they hired a sculpture artist to create an interactive statue of a naked biker that they’ve been hauling around the country to promote Portland (seriously).
Whatever you think about WNBR, its organizers deserve a lot of credit for their staying power. They’ve turned a seemingly trifle bike ride into a powerful statement about the beauty of our bodies, our dependency on oil, and the vulnerability of bicycle riders. The World Naked Bike Ride has become a respected Portland institution.
Help make the 15th edition even better! Check out the volunteer page on PDXWNBR.org and see how you can help.
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