ST. LOUIS – Hundreds of cyclists are expected to take on several streets of St. Louis on Saturday for the 14th annual World Naked Bike Ride.
The event, first held in St. Louis in 2007, has drawn more than 2,000 cyclists in previous years and genrally covers more than 10 miles of ground in highly-visible areas within St. Louis City.
Riders will meet at 4 p.m. at HandleBar, a bicycle-themed bar in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. The ride starts at 6 p.m. and is expected to end around 8 p.m. Organizers tell riders to go “as bare as they dare,” so some may choose to participate in the ride without any articles of clothing.
First recognized as a protest against oil dependency in Canada in 2004, the World Naked Bike Ride has since expanded its footprint to dozens of U.S. cities and at least 20 countries. St. Louis is one at least 16 U.S. cities planning such a bike ride this year.
According to a FAQ section of the website promoting the St. Louis event, “The World Naked Bike Ride is a protest and that’s why people are allowed to be naked,” as long as cyclists refrain from illegal conduct while naked. The website encourages personal expression, but also mentions, “due to legal restrictions in St. Louis, full frontal nudity is at your own risk.”
“We inform our guests of this,” Tatyana Telnikova, lead organizer of the bike ride in St. Louis, tells FOX2. “But being on the bike ride itself is like a protest, if you’re riding with a mass group of people.”
Telnikova says the ride is intended to promote a positive body image, alternative forms of transportation and cyclists’ rights.
“It’s really good energy,” said Telnikova. “It’s about being together, having fun and being your true self on a bicycle.”
Telnikova, who also owns HandleBar just outside of the race’s starting point, took over as lead organizer of the event nearly eight years ago. She credits a group of Washington University students for bringing the concept to St. Louis in the mid-2000s.
While the ride originally began in the Southampton neighborhood, it has been modified in recent years to essentially loop around The Grove. Telnikova says, in recent years, St. Louis has rivaled Chicago and Portland in terms of participation with the event.
“It was kind of getting too big and it didn’t make sense to close the street down for it,” says Telnikova. “We thought it would make more sense to move the whole thing to The Grove, the start and the finish there.”
The festivities have since expanded to include a pre-ride costume contest and a massive afterparty with live entertainment. For a closer look at The World Naked Bike Ride and events planned around it, click here.