Backlash after Edinburgh cyclists bare all in city centre to protest 'car culture'

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A controversial protest which saw cyclists pedal through the streets of Edinburgh in their birthday suits has sparked an online outrage.

On Saturday, a group of cyclists stripped off for the Capital’s leg of the World Naked Bike Ride, which has taken place around the globe since 2001 and in the capital since 2004.

The event is described by organisers as ‘a celebration of bikes and bodies, showing cyclists’ vulnerability on our roads’. But it offended the sensibilities of some at the weekend, with social media users calling for police action against participants.

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An X user named Mel wrote: “Sigh. Men who like to expose themselves publicly, given a platform to do so. I’m kind of surprised Edinburgh Council approved this.”

The Edinburgh World Naked Bike Ride has been held in some form on-and-off since 2004.The Edinburgh World Naked Bike Ride has been held in some form on-and-off since 2004.
The Edinburgh World Naked Bike Ride has been held in some form on-and-off since 2004.

Roddy Dunlop KC added: “Take the bike away and that’s a rather obvious criminal offence. The Naked Rambler will be furious.”

Others described the display as ‘grotesque’ and accused the cyclists of ‘exhibitionism’. However, the organisers hit back, insisting there was nothing sexual about their nude demonstration.

Responding to a suggestion the law around indecent exposure had been ignored during the event, they wrote: “It isn't illegal to be naked.

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“You can't change the law for one event! Going about an otherwise legal activity is not made illegal by your state of dress.”

They added: “This event happens all over the world. Scotland was a late adopter, but it's been going on for 10 years, about 4 completely naked. Almost all people cheer, laugh and take photos.”

Under Scots Law, public nudity is not an offence unless it causes alarm or distress to others.

In the run-up to the event, posters appeared urging people to mount their bikes ‘as bare as you dare’. Cyclists were called upon to protest against ‘oil dependency and climate change’ and in favour of ‘body freedom and bikes’.

City of Edinburgh Council has been approached for comment.

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