But that wasn’t the case this year for one individual, who may or may not be a Never Nude.
According to a recent post on the philadelphia subreddit and the accompanying comments, someone left a letter on many of the city’s Indego bike share cycles following the most recent Philly Naked Bike Ride, which took place Aug. 24. That letter was headlined: “WARNING: A NAKED PERSON SAT ON THIS BICYCLE SEAT."
The user, who posted the letter Aug. 28, said they found it on an Indego bike. A subsequent commenter said they saw the same letter in the basket of every Indego bike docked at 10th and Chestnut Streets in Center City around the same time.
The anonymous protracted missive against bespoke birthday suit bicyclists read, in part:
“In a place where Gritty decries street harassment because it makes the target feel uncomfortable and violated, so too does exposing others to public nudity against their will."
While the letter was referring to fliers pasted throughout Philly earlier this year depicting Gritty as Smokey the Bear with the words “Please! Only you can prevent street harassment Philadelphia," that may have not been the best example.
The letter also questions the legality of the Naked Bike Ride, argues the difference between shame and modesty, and posits that the ride not only violates the Qur’an but also people’s dinner.
Oddly enough though, the letter never addresses the WARNING in the headline to bike share riders that someone naked may have sat on the very bicycle seat they are about to use.
So we did some digging.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recommends that those who plan to rent a bike for the Naked Bike Ride wrap the seat with a towel or a t-shirt. The Philly Naked Bike Ride explicitly states on its website: “If you are renting a bike, we strongly recommend wrapping your seat" with something like a t-shirt, bandanna, or “a swatch of velvet.”
Since the Indego bicycles and stations are managed by the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, we asked the city for its stance on riding an Indego cycle while naked.
Answering questions via email, transportation programs manager Aaron Ritz pointed to section 1.9 of Indego’s user agreement, which reads that the bicycles are only intended for “limited types of use." While the agreement states the bikes can’t be used for racing, mountain biking, or trick riding, nothing about riding naked is directly mentioned.
Ritz said the city hasn’t received any formal complaints about the bicycles being used during the Naked Bike Ride, nor has it pursued banning naked people from riding them.
“Currently there is no on-bike technology to determine whether a rider is clothed or not,” he wrote.
When asked if the city believes there are any health issues connected with sitting on a bicycle after it has been used by a naked individual, Ritz said the Health Department recommends using a barrier between the rider and seat.
“For example, underwear, a towel, pants, etc., are all good options,” he wrote. “For riders concerned about using bicycles any time following events such as the Naked Bike Ride, clothing is always recommended and would be a sufficient barrier.”
The bicycles are also wiped down with a rag and organic cleaner and inspected at least once a month, Ritz said.
Perhaps, as one reddit user suggested, the individual who wrote the anonymous letter should be over the moon that things aren’t worse.
“I support the naked bike ride based on the assumption the naked jog would be much worse,” Fishtownfingers wrote.