Miami Beach Police Say Nude Cycling Is NOT Allowed (Pictures)
The conflict was inevitable. The only question remaining was how it would play itself out. A group called the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), was planning an au naturel cycling expedition along the length of Lincoln Road and back at 6 pm on Saturday, June 9, 2007.
Why Would Anyone Want To Bike Ride Nude Down Lincoln Road?
“It’s Miami Beach!” their website proclaimed. “Everyone’s going to be hot, naked and sweaty. Of course, you can always start a WNBR in northern Iceland if you’d prefer?”
Participants were encouraged to don “hula skirts, lamp shades, phallic socks, body paint, G-strings, pasties… any creative design of your imagination is encouraged.” Their mission, as proclaimed in their website (http://www.worldnakedbikeride.org), stated:
They have scheduled such events the world over, in locales as diverse as San Francisco, Knoxville, TN and Rio de Janeiro, with the intention of bringing these ideals into the pubic consciousness.
On the flip side, public information officer for the Miami Beach Police Department, Bobby Hernandez, as quoted on the miaminewtimes.com website, drew the line in the sand, as it were:
With an anticipated bouillabaisse of bicyclists in the buff, and an equally uncompromising local police force, it promised to be a lively afternoon. Even among those whose political consciousness was lacking, the allure of a gaggle of naked cyclists was too much to pass up. And so, the reporters of MiamiBeach411.com, unwilling to let any socially conscious Miami event pass us by unnoticed, manned our post with cameras in hand, eager to see what the day would portend.
Nude Cycling Timeline
The WNBR website stated that riders were to assemble at the corner of Lincoln and Alton Roads, in front of the Regal Cinemas, at 5:30 pm, in preparation for a 6pm ride.
5:30pm: Families strolled by, speaking a myriad of languages, but everyone was reasonably clothed and none was on bicycles. Children sucked on candy, toting balloons, emerging from the movie theatre in the presence of their parents, seemingly oblivious to the spectacle so close at hand.
5:50pm: a few camera-wielding individuals began to congregate in the area, their presence quite conspicuous. I asked one Indian fellow with a lens so long you could burp it if he was there to cover the World Naked Bike Ride event. He feigned ignorance, muttering a negative response and wandering into some nearby shrubbery. Soon after, a reporter from the Miami Herald appeared, searching for the non-existent organizers of the ride. A few minutes later, a jovial gentleman from the Sun-Sentinel showed up, looking for the naked people. However, there were no booths; no welcoming committee; indeed, no naked people. Only the curious stares of passersby.
Finally, around 6pm., a handful of people began to congregate. Among them was a group from Critical Mass Miami. They stressed that they had no connection with the event. They were there only to pass out flyers. When asked whether their objectives were synonymous with those of the WNBR, one of their members stated that the goals of the WNBR were “more environmental in nature.”
Keeping a low profile across the street in the median were prospective riders Eugenio (right), 40, a native of Venezuela, and his friend, Ray, from Cuba. Eugenio, his bike in the car, was concerned. He felt there was a lack of organization. “You don’t need a permit, but you need some clearance. If people get naked and ride, two blocks up the street, there’s three police who will arrest you. If it were well organized with banners or a booth or something, it would be different. Or at least a couple of police officers to make sure it was safe. But it’s not.”
Across the street, Ken 41, bicycled up; he’d come down for the event from Palm Coast, FL. He, like the others, had read about it on the internet. I asked whether he was there because of the biking angle, or the nudity. He replied that it was about 50-50. He had spent the earlier part of the day in Haulover, the local nude beach. He expressed doubts over whether or not he would go nude on Lincoln Road, however, citing the presence of young children as a deterrent. He would “go with the crowd” to see what he could get away with. “If you’ve ever been to Haulover, you know that we’re very careful about what goes on in front of children. If anyone goes too far, they’ll get their asses kicked!”
6:15pm: The crowd began to assemble more in earnest, but the amount of actual participants—roughly four—was severely outnumbered by the reporters, Critical Mass members, and approaching policemen.
The Carl Hiaasen Moment
The silence was then broken by a loud “woo-hoo!” A slightly disheveled looking long-haired fellow rode up on a bicycle; it definitely wasn’t Howard Dean. Could this perhaps be the long lost organizer of the event? The individual dismounted from his bike, and after exchanging a few niceties with a couple of Critical Mass members, launched into a tete-a-tete with the jovial reporter from the Sun-Sentinel. “Who are you with? Are you trying to snitch on us?” He asked, his eyes a bit glossy and his speech a little slurry. There was an undercurrent of aggressiveness in his voice. The Sun-Sentinel reporter did his best to make nice, using his well-honed defusing tactics to make the man go away, but the man lingered… “Where do you live?!” he demanded of the reporter, who sheepishly answered, Miami Beach. “We’re going to throw a party at your house!” he cried. “Who am I?” he bellowed. “What does it matter who I am!?”
Nearby, prospective rider Eric, from Miami, wanted to ensure that the true message of the event was heard: “There’s a serious lack of alternative transportation in Miami,” he said. “And anything anyone can do to raise awareness about it is a positive thing!”
At that moment, Lt. de la Espriella, of the Miami Beach Police Department moved in, flanked by two officers. None looked very happy. He was looking for the organizers of the event—as was everyone else. He explained that there were two problems:
As the other participants discussed the situation peacefully with Lt. de la Espriella, the “woo-hoo!” guy began to yell at the police officers, apparently displeased at their intervention. The officers at first ignored him, but then, seeing that he was determined to continue his tirade, approached him to discuss the matter.
Seconds later, the officers handcuffed him, and led him away. The charge? DUI. You can actually charge someone with DUI on a bicycle. “It’s the second time I’ve ever had to do it.” Lt. de la Espriella explained.
He then expressed concern that the press would be more eager to make money from the picture of the “woo-hoo!” guy’s arrest, without considering the true facts of the matter. He stated that his wife works in the media, and that they’re always locking horns.
The crowd, feeling a bit let down over the lack of organization around this much needed publicity, began to disperse, distracted by the warm tropical breezes, and the music pouring out of the nearby cafes. Their cause would have to be proclaimed another day.
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