Book Review: "World Naked Bike Ride"

I got this book at YAPC::Europe 2012 as a present from it's author, Richard Foley, after he learned that we cycled to Frankfurt. I've known Richard for several years from various Perl conferences and consider him a friend. (End of "Freunderlwirtschaft" Disclaimer :-)

So, the book is about the World Naked Bike Ride, an event where cyclists cycle naked or "as bare as they dare" (or as bare as allowed by local laws) to "raise awareness of the urgent need to reduce oil dependency and traffic pollution in our cities"0 and to have lots of fun1.

The book contains 250+ photos of cyclists in various degrees of nakedness and body paint. While it might sound a bit creepy2 that somebody collects that many (or even more) pictures of naked people, it is, in this case, not: Richard is a nudist himself, and you can find several pictures of him in the book (naked, of course..).

But you can and should also read it for the articles!

Richard tells the history of the Word Naked Bike Ride, which has "started as a grassroots environmental protest movement which has gone globally viral"3; explains why bicycling is a good (the best?) way to reduce oil dependency and pollution; legal problems (or the lack thereof..) encountered by naked cyclists around the world; how to handle the media, and why it is attracted to events like WNBR; and more..

While the book could use a bit more editing4 it is an interesting read and has lots of insightful photos5. I never really thought of WNBR / Critical Mass as a protest against oil dependency, but of course it is. One thing I found missing was a comparison to other naked protests (PETA, Femen), which tend to only feature supermodel-like naked (mostly) women, whereas WNBR consists of regular naked people (with wrinkles, fat & hair6).

The book is a bit pricey at €25, but I assume that's the price you have to pay for 250 color pictures of naked cyclists!

BTW: Tomorrow we have the yearly Naked Bike Ride in Vienna!


0 page 9.

1 /me says so

2 WNBR always attracts some semi-creepy bystanders who apparently have never heard of this thing called the internet)

3 Conrad Schmidt, "founder" of WNBR, in the introduction. page 5

4 Some arguments are repeated, and sometimes the writing is a bit .. bumpy. But as this book is self-published on a very low budget, those weaknesses can be ignored.

5 For example, there is a picture showing (in the background) some naked riders riding cheerfully along a street. In the forground there is family who turns their back on them, looking into the hedge next to the street, while the kids even have to shield their eyes with their hands to make very sure they not see any nude parts (or bicyclists?).

6 two of those three features apply to me :-)