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Cycling activists and enthusiasts bare all on two wheels

World Naked Bike Ride draws attention to oil consumption and cycling

by Kaley Kennedy

Organizer Tom MacDonald celebrates the success of this year's Naked Bike Ride, which doubled in size this year. <br> Photo by Sahar Yousefi.
Organizer Tom MacDonald celebrates the success of this year's Naked Bike Ride, which doubled in size this year.
Photo by Sahar Yousefi.

 After two hours of painting bodies with designs, pictures, handprints, slogans, and even a full painted-on Star Trek uniform, a group of about 60 cyclists took to the streets in Halifax as part of the World Naked Bike Ride on June 12.

“The message of the ride is about reducing oil dependency as well as promoting bike culture as an alternative to car culture,” said Tom MacDonald, one of the ride’s organizers. He added that the ride also promotes bodily awareness, including the connections between active transportation and health.

From tongue–in-cheek political messages like “Fill up this tank,” and “Can you see me now?” to more light-hearted messages like “This costume made by God” painted on their bodies, riders of all kinds showcased a variety of reasons for participating.

MacDonald says that momentum around cycling has been building in Halifax, mentioning the success of HRM Bike Week earlier this month and a growing number of bicycle-related events happening in Halifax on a regular basis. This year’s Naked Bike Ride attracted twice as many cyclists as last year, something MacDonald hopes to improve upon next year.

The ride started at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street, and cyclists rode about 15.5 kilometres throughout downtown, ending back at the Bus Stop an hour and a half later. The ride was one of six Naked Bike Rides in Canada.

“Biking is the best. It’s cheap. It’s a good workout, and it’s easy transportation,” said Heloise Zuhaime, one of the cyclists who took to the streets. Zuhaime heard about the ride through a poster and says that she supports activities that promote cycling.

Cycling infrastructure in Halifax, however, remains sub-par. According to the Halifax Cycling Coalition, Halifax has over 80 km of bike lanes; but they are not well connected and do not connect residential areas to the places where people work. Currently, the Halifax Cycling Coalition is campaigning for the city to build a Crosstown Connector: “a single, connected bike lane that unites the South end of Halifax to the North end.”

MacDonald agrees that improving cycling infrastructure is the number one way to get more people to ride their bikes.

“If you ask people why they don’t bike, the number one reason is because they think it is too unsafe,” says MacDonald, noting that cycling infrastructure is especially important to get more children on bicycles.

Martha, a woman on the ride who asked that her last name not be used, says that riding in Halifax has been “weird” compared to the other cities she’s lived in.

“The drivers [in Halifax] are all kind of disconcerted by bicycles,” she says. “So it’s really good to have events like this so that people remember that cyclists exist. They’re not always naked, but they do exist.”

MacDonald thinks that fostering good relationships with motorists could go a long way toward improving cycling safety in Halifax, - and he hopes the Naked Bike Ride can help.

“Maybe the silliness of the Naked Bike Ride will stick with the driver who smiles as we go by and they will remember that the next time they see a bike on the road.”

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Good on ya!

Thanks for writing the amazing article Kaleigh!

See you next year?


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