*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.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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“without the sponsorship from individuals and the two main sponsors … the World Naked Bike Ride would likely cease to exist.”
It would still exist, but smaller. This isn’t an event that requires money, but a bit of money helps to make it go smoother.
It was a way better ride when it was smaller, DIY and unsponsored. Too large and dangerous these days, plus most people riding in it now don’t even know about or understand the reason behind its origins in Zaragoza, Spain.
“Now don’t even know about or understand the reason behind its origins”
I am afraid this amnesia is not limited to WNBR.
I’ve lamented the parallel atrophying of any knowledge of Sunday Parkways’ origins in these pages, but almost no one else seems bothered.
As the vendor coordinator for last year’s event I was responsible for the port a potties and the security.
I can assure you this is an event that requires a lot more money than you would expect.
You can not ethically host as many people in one place without proper toilets or security given the nature of the event. Also the volume of resources is not the cause for such turn out for the event but is the reaction to the volume of people who would otherwise show regardless. It’s all our responsibility to make sure it happens correctly. If you don’t think the city would do what it could to shut down the event given thousands of participants defecated in public as a result of negligence of the hosts you should consider just how much damage that large of a crowd can cause. I think your statement completely underplays the scale of the event.
The naked ride. The once a year when Portland takes front pages across the country for all the right reasons.
I’m signed up as a volunteer already. I really loved the start point at Cathedral Park this year, but I thought the ride was disappointingly short, but I get that they have to coordinate the route with the PPB etc. Hopefully, next year will be another great ride.
There will, likely, be several other naked rides that day… starting @ about 9.00 am & set you up to do 100km (60+ miles) all day long.
I have made it to every event since I’ve moved back to portland,
Last year was my last ride. I completely agree with the statements about how the event (not speaking about the hosts, but rather the attendees) have lost touch with the spirit of the ride.
I think it’s to the point where this event attracts more in the way of sexual predators than it does anyone who would otherwise address the issues we are protesting about in the first place.
It’s more like a large frat party than a protest anymore.
If anything I feel like it’s created a culture of complacency amongst our community. Everyone talks about the naked people and thats all it seems to be good for anymore. Frankly I’m sick of myself and the WNBR is portland’s apex of narcissism.