COUNTY NEWS: Campaigners bare all in naked bike ride

A naked protester taking part in the 2015 event.
A naked protester taking part in the 2015 event.

Campaigners are set to bare all in a naked bicycle protest this weekend which has prompted controversy among some Sussex residents.

On Sunday (June 3), a group of cyclists will be taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride in Hastings, with a route expected to take in Hastings town centre, Old Town and the seafront.

Organisers say the event - which was last in Hastings in 2015 - is intended as an environmental protest as well as an effort to highlight cycle safety and body positivity.

Assistant organiser Ian Henden said: “Being naked makes people sit up and take notice. It worked in the case of Lady Godiva, and it works here. Many (admittedly not all) of the participants are people who would normally not dream of being naked in public.”

But the plans have caused some concerns among Hastings residents. Writing on the Hastings Observer Facebook page, reader Murray Greenhill said: “How is this allowed to happen? I don’t want my children being exposed to this. What is the need for it?”

Another reader, Lee Healy said: “This event is a complete joke. I’m sure I’m not the only one that does not want to see people naked on bikes in protest, knowing children can see them also.”

Sussex Police confirmed it is aware of the ride and would be working with organisers to facilitate the event while keeping people safe and minimising disruption. A police spokesman added that nudity is not automatically an offence but depends on the circumstances and intention of the person.

Police say they will be particularly mindful around children’s participation and will give close consideration to any safeguarding issues .

Inspector Aidan Cornwall, of Hastings police, said: “The naked bike ride is essentially a protest and we have to weigh up that right to a peaceful protest against the potential offence that may be caused.

"Any offences of outraging public decency or indecent exposure will be dealt with in the usual way. Officers will be assigned to police this event but will not be cycling."

Insp Cornwall also asked anyone intending to be in Hastings on Sunday to be aware of the ride and to expect potential disruption to traffic and pedestrians.

The ride is expected to take place between 1.30pm and 5pm on Sunday, June 3.