Will biking in the buff take off around the region?
June. 30—Biking in the buff may be the ultimate sense of American freedom for some folks, but naked bicycling is not exactly a common pastime.
After all, there is a reason that padded cycling shorts are a “thing” and come in hundreds of styles for men and women.
“I cannot imagine my sweaty, naked butt on a bicycle seat,” said one avid area cyclist who commented on condition of anonymity.
However, in early June outdoor home services marketer LawnStarter named Philadelphia the No. 1 destination for naked biking in the United States.
That is not a joke.
The company, based in Austin, Texas, embarked on a semi-serious analysis of data from the 200 largest cities in the country.
“We looked at naked biking events, local interest in nude cycling, bikeability, and legal bumps in the road (like public nudity laws), among 11 total metrics,” the press release stated.
Philadelphia’s high ranking was due in large part to the Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride, which has been an annual event since Labor Day weekend in 2009 (with a pandemic pause for 2020, of course).
This year’s event is set for Aug. 26. Participants will receive the starting point and route 24 hours before the ride.
Have other counties around Philadelphia considered hosting an au natural bicycling event?
“It’s crucial for all event organizers to consider the values, norms, and legal regulations of our community,” wrote Bree Nidds, chief operating officer of Discover Lehigh Valley, the tourism agency promoting the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton region, in an email. “While we recognize that naked bike rides have taken place in other cities, we would need to ensure that events hosted in our community align with the cultural and legal expectations of our community members.
“A very crucial step in the conversation would be to consult with local authorities and relevant stakeholders to determine the legality and feasibility of hosting such an event,” she added. “We would encourage the event organizers to prioritize public safety and adhere to any applicable laws or permits required for organizing this type of event.”
Those sentiments were echoed by other area tourism bureaus.
“For example obtaining permits for the route would be a challenge with possible nudity,” wrote Nina Kelly, director of marketing and communications for Chester County’s Brandywine Valley tourism bureau, in an email. “There is a fine line for legality of ‘lewdness’ and township codes may vary as well. “For example obtaining permits for the route would be a challenge with possible nudity,” wrote Nina Kelly, director of marketing and communications for Chester County’s Brandywine Valley tourism bureau, in an email. “There is a fine line for legality of ‘lewdness’ and township codes may vary as well.
“So our short answer is, while we embrace the cycling community, it may be difficult to host clothing optional!”
The lack of clothing does seem to be a speed bump that organizations approach cautiously.
“It’s a very different event than what we are used to,” said Crystal Seitz, president of Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, the former Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’ve had bike races before.”
But she said the tourism bureau has never been approached about bringing any kind of nude cycling event to Berks, noting that her organization is not really an event planner.
“When we’ve had bicycle races, there’s a committee that gets together, they find sponsors for it, they work with the police and stuff like that,” Seitz said.
“Berks County is a bit more conservative than Philadelphia, so I think it would be, what we’d have to say, is there a group in the community that would want to handle something like this and put it on? Me personally, I don’t know that a community group would pick it up and run with it.”