London's world naked bike ride yesterday (& Brighton, York and Manchester)

World Naked Bike Ride 06 London 1
World Naked Bike Ride 06 London 2

between 600 and 1000 people took part in the naked bike ride protest yesterday afternoon in the blazing sunshine. meeting up at wellington arch from around midday, it soon became clear this travelling naked protest against the dominance of car culture and oil dependency was going to be something extraordinary.

cyclists, skaters, and a few walkers stripped off in their hundreds, and accompanied by a low-key police cycle presence (who looked rather hot and over-dressed in their yellow jackets) at soon after 3.30 they set off down piccadilly.

counters were asking people to go through the arch as they left, but many didn't realise and simply joined at the front. even so, more than 600 were counted, so the actual number was considerably larger.

the pink (and very english pale white) mass was dotted with a few darker hues as well as a few folk who didn't bare all (the ride is clothing optional). they cycled through piccadilly circus and trafalgar square to whitehall, where there was an impromptu stop and a fun photo opportunity outside the gates of downing street. on round the corner of parliament square (with shouts of support to brian haw the peace campaigner who is still there after more than five years) and across the bridge.

the reception from passers-by was very good with cheering, whistling and cameras clicking. back over waterloo bridge, the route passed through the heart of covent garden - what a spectacle for the tourists! cyclists handed out leaflets about the purpose of the ride, and the pavements were crammed with disbelieving onlookers as the naked riders wheeled their way up charing cross road to oxford street.

along oxford street, shoppers stopped and reached for their mobiles and cameras as the road was filled with flesh. then on to the american embassy where naked bums were flaunted en masse.

they cycled down the final straight of park lane with car traffic held back by the friendly cops, warm breeze on naked flesh as all three lanes were occupied. wow - why can't cycling always be like this?

back at the arch, the police bade farewell, and a small party with sound system continued until the last of the nudists finally robed near 8pm.

all shapes and sizes, genders and ages were involved. one of the oldest was a woman of 84 who was too cold to go naked last year. she was thankful for the brilliant sunshine yesterday.

the world naked bike ride is still in its infancy. if present growth rates continue, there will be thousands of riders forming the largest ever british 'critical mass' next year, and naked rides are sprouting up in cities all over britain and throughout the rest of the world.

More reports & photos at http://www.worldnakedbikeride.org/uk
Including reports from rides in other parts of UK.