6:04am Monday 11th June 2007
By Nigel Freedman
Cyclists bared all for a naked bike ride through the streets of Brighton and Hove.
Almost 200 people threw caution to the wind to ride in various states of undress.
A daring 30 or so people cycled as naked as the day they were born.
Others went topless or had body paint, flowers, fig leaves and even a flower pot covering their more intimate areas.
It was the second time Brighton had staged the World Naked Bike Ride, aiming to highlight issues of oil dependency and the vulnerability of cyclists on the road, while celebrating the human body.
Last year, police threatened to arrest anyone who rode completely naked but this time riders were allowed to strip off, so long as they did nothing offensive.
Mother-of-one Alex Wood, 42, of Lewes Road, Brighton, was among those who stripped as the riders left The Level to cheers from onlookers.
She said: "I'm here to support cycling and to counter some of the inhibitions people have about their bodies.
"It took quite a bit of courage to do this naked but it is a fun way to get the message across.
"My 17-year-old daughter, Ruth, is coming down to take part with her friends but I don't think she wants to be seen riding near me!"
Police and stewards stopped traffic as the riders, watched by crowds five deep in places, headed for the seafront. Standout participants included a naked in-line skater and a bare unicyclist.
Karen Finley, 38, of Ditchling Road, Brighton, went naked, despite being nine months pregnant.
She was taken round the course in a rickshaw belonging to gift shop Jugs (Just Unusual Gifts) in Hove.
She said: "I cycle all the time.
It is a much better way to travel than by car. I can't wait to start cycling again once the baby is born."
Unicyclist Tom Druitt, 29, from Brighton, said: "It is important to raise awareness among people about cycling and how much fun it is.
"I am not at all worried about stripping off in public. I have done it before."
Some onlookers were concerned about the public display of nudity. Muriel Gallis, 71, of Wellington Road, Brighton, a retired Salvation Army officer, said: "I don't agree with stripping off in public because it can be offensive to some people."
John Tester, 70, of Wilson Avenue, Brighton, said: "I don't think it is right when there are families with young children about."
Jill Oliver, 43, was with her daughter Ciara, nine, when the procession left The Level.
She said: "People have the right to protest and if this is the way they want to do it that is fine. I would not really fancy doing it and I think Ciara finds seeing naked people a little embarrassing.
"But that is what is different about Brighton and Hove - people are allowed to do something different here."
City councillor Paul Elgood was one of those who watched the procession in Western Road.
He said: "It is a good way to make a statement and has certainly stopped people on the streets today."
Police stepped in when about 12 cyclists climbed into the fountain at Old Steine to cool off. The riders left when officers asked them to. Inspector John Greetham said: "We are very happy with the way the event went and I have to give credit to the organisers for the way it was handled.
"Everyone seemed very happy and we had no complaints from the public."
Organiser Duncan Blinkhorn said the event had been well received, adding: "We will definitely be back next year, on June 13."
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group