Thousands of naked bicyclists swarm City of Brotherly Love

FILE PHOTO: Artist Nicole Tossas paints a slogan on the back of a bicyclist before the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride in Philadelphia on Saturday Sept. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Dino Hazell)

PHILADELPHIA, PA (AP) — Thousands of bicyclists dared to be bare for the city’s annual nude ride promoting positive body image, cycling advocacy and fuel conservation.

About 3,000 people gathered Saturday for the eighth annual Philly Naked Bike Ride through the city’s streets. They set off from a park near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Sylvester Stallone ran up the steps in the “Rocky” movies.

The annual ride featured people sporting underwear, body paint, glitter or nothing at all. Some riders concerned about being recognized by their parents or co-workers wore masks while others wore just their shoes.

“It’s a really open and fun way of destigmatizing nudity,” said Oren Eisenberg, who was riding nude for the fifth time.

The 12-mile ride through the City of Brotherly Love is among many related to the World Naked Bike Ride movement. The riders pedal through the City of Brotherly Love past popular spots such as Independence Hall and Rittenhouse Square, where crowds cheer them on.

The Philly Naked Bike Ride, or PNBR, is a clothing optional bare-as-you-dare event, meaning participants can wear as much or as little as they want. Organizers say it’s an invitation to be naked but they want people to be comfortable and have fun no matter how much skin they expose.

Lots of the riders sprayed or splashed on body paint or let artists, led by Matt Deifer, do it for them. Deifer said he painted hundreds of them in Wildfire Visible Luminescent Paint colors including brilliant yellow, bright orange and deep blue.

Some riders held signs with slogans promoting their causes — or painted them on their breasts and backs.

“Nude not crude! Born this way,” was the message on Ben Heidari’s back.

PNBR volunteer Magda Esposito, a former chef and librarian, posed au naturel for fliers and videos promoting the event, went on test rides to help design this year’s route and vetted photographers seeking access to the pre-ride bodypainting area. She said she donated her time because she was inspired by the ride’s causes.

“Positive body image is something we all need a little more of,” she said, “and this is a fun and positive way to bring attention to it.”

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