Grassroots protest exhibits the vulnerability of the human body
State law is pretty specific about what constitutes indecent exposure—the primary genital area, or "mons pubis, penis, testicles, mons veneris, vulva or vagina." What's not on that list? Butts and female nipples.
Santa Fe's city codes restate New Mexico's law, but Albuquerque’s ordinances specify further: In Burque, butts and nips are out.
That's why Duke City dweller Droston is bringing the state’s first World Naked Bike Ride to the capital instead. He tried to get the spokes flashing in his hometown in January, but city bosses said no. He applied for a permit, but because Albuquerque's nudity rules are more strident, he was shot down.
He hasn't applied for a permit in Santa Fe. "We're just kind of going for it," he says of the maiden voyage. "We'll see what happens."
Because the naked ride is a protest, Droston says, it could be viewed as a First Amendment issue. But to prove it in court would be a major hassle and expense. “I don't want to encourage anyone to go down that path," he says. Instead, he’d like to encourage riders to participate within the limits of the law.
“A perfect body is not required either. We come in all shapes.”
Droston, World Naked Bike Ride New Mexico chapter organizer
Droston doesn't want to use his last name, fearing backlash from his employer. "Not that we're doing anything illegal or anything wrong, but in our conservative Christian society, the idea of people riding around on bicycles naked does not appeal to other people.”
Similar rides are held internationally. The first World Naked Bike Ride rolled through Spain in 2001. Since then, it's expanded to many countries, with at least 24 cities hosting them in the United States. The rides are clothing-optional, and Droston's encouraging a policy of "as bare as you dare"—or as bare as you legally dare, or course.
The Santa Fe ride will cover 3.55 miles and go through downtown with a protest stop on the steps of the New Mexico Capitol. The local chapter of the World Naked Bike Ride is calling for: safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, more two-way cycle lanes, and cycle-only zones. Shy riders can wear shorts, bathing suits and body paint, Droston suggests. "No one will pressure you to take off more clothes than you want to," his leaflet assures. "A perfect body is not required either. We come in all shapes."
The point, he says, is to object to our dependence on oil. The timing is right given the horrendous oil geyser in the Gulf, he adds. Beyond the environmental focus, the ride is also about exhibiting the vulnerability of the human body against motorized vehicles. Droston speaks of David Anderson, the cyclist who was killed in Albuquerque this year as he cycled with his wife down the Paseo del Norte trail [see page 8].
The League of American Bicyclists released its rankings for bike-friendly states. The rankings consider: the number and quality of bike lanes, paths and trails; safety education; and local laws. New Mexico came in at No. 46.
Still, Droston says Albuquerque and Santa Fe have done a good job of supporting cyclists and pedestrians, though there's still a long way to go. "We'd like to keep this issue at their doorstep."
Clothing optional, helmets required
Saturday, June 19, noon
Starting location: South Capitol Rail Runner train station (1310 Alta Vista, Santa Fe)
After-party immediately following the ride: Entrada Park (at the intersection of Don Diego, Guadalupe and Cerrillos)