Hundreds of bikers disrobed and descended on North Point Park in Cambridge Saturday night for the Boston branch of the World Naked Bike Ride.
Organizers see it as a fun and raunchy way to spread the word about cyclist safety and advocate for fuel-efficient transportation – bringing serious issues to the conversation in a way that is sure to demand attention.
Coverage of the ride got some extra mileage this year after ridesharing service Hubway gave a statement to The Boston Globe asking riders not to go cheek-to-seat on their public bikes.
“For the love of all that is decent, please consider the other riders,” the spokesperson said.
Even the Boston Public Health Commission weighed in.
Executive Director Huy Nguyen told Metro: “While naked bike riding prevents a relatively low risk of transmission of most diseases, the suggestion that participants using shared bikes in the ride wear underwear or bathing suits is worth echoing as a matter of public health, manners, and common courtesy. Washing your hands before eating is always a good idea to reduce the risk of infection.”
After several days of jokes and goofy copy and airtime, Hubway reached out to WNBR Boston to make nice.
Ride organizers posted Hubway’s message on their Facebook page Saturday morning:
"[We] hope all the silly publicity regarding riding Hubway while naked is helpful for the ride. We certainly didn't mean to hijack the purpose(s) of the ride. For the record, a Globe reporter sent a brief question asking whether riding naked on a Hubway was allowed, and we sent a very brief (2 sentence) response with a light-hearted tone, and the media just went with it. We certainly weren't planning a publicity push around this.
Again, I apologize if the publicity distracted from your message, but I hope in a way it helped. Have fun on your ride."
So why, you might ask, would all these brave cyclists bare all?
It can be dangerous out there for pedaling commuters. A study produced by the city in 2013 found there were 1,700 EMS response incidents involving bicycles between 2009 and 2012.
Bike lanes and “sharrows” in the city have become a major part of city planning – knowing how to navigate them in your car, and to share the road with bikers, is the only way they work to keep cyclists safe.
There are ways bikers can make themselves safer, too. Bike Safe Boston offers ‘10 Commandments’ for city cyclists everywhere. Among them: “Treat every taxi as though its doors are already open,” “If it’s nighttime and you don’t have lights, don’t bother riding” and “If a vehicle weighs over 5 tons, it probably can’t see you.”