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Canterbury cyclists given stiff warning ahead of World Naked Bike Ride after complaints to police about 'inappropriate behaviour'

By Lowri Stafford

Cyclists set to ride naked through Canterbury this weekend have been hit with a set of strict rules – because the last event sparked complaints to police.

Organisers have been forced to lay down the law following talks with officers about "inappropriate behaviour" reported at the inaugural ride, which saw dozens of cyclists bare all for the World Naked Bike Ride.

Now those who only want to leer at the riders have been warned to stay away, with those taking part told to not pose naked with spectators – and to cover themselves up if they become "aroused".

The World Naked Bike Ride in Canterbury aimed to raise awareness of issues affecting cyclists

On the event's website, organiser Simon Terry said: "Regrettably, we were let down by a small minority of the participants in the 2013 ride, who ignored our requests and also behaved inappropriately.

"In short, they were there for their own benefit and not for the benefit and purpose of promoting and supporting the World Naked Bike Ride."

Following discussions with police bosses, organisers have arranged for the ride to go ahead – if restrictions are followed.

Mr Terry added: "If you are thinking of coming to the start or finish area not to participate but just because you 'like seeing naked girls' (as one creep told the media last year) the police have been informed and have been asked to remove you."

Mr Terry was referring to an onlooker at last year's start line at Victoria Rec, a 65-year-old from Faversham, who told KentOnline at the time: "I'm not riding, but I'm enjoying being here with nothing on. And I like to look at the girls."

A naked bike ride in Canterbury to raise awareness of the planet's dependency on oil

Riders are also being told to carry clothing with them and dress immediately if they are forced to drop out for any reason.

The guidance continues: "Do not leave your bike to approach pedestrians if you are naked. This will be regarded as you choosing to leave the ride and police could take action against you.

"Respect other riders, especially if they choose to ride naked. We have been requested not to pose naked with any members of the public."

"The nudity is specifically to draw attention to how vulnerable cyclists are when riding alongside motor vehicles, not to draw attention to you as an individual..." - organiser Simon Terry

And in a "special and important message to male participants", Mr Terry added: "Should you become aroused, you WILL pull over to the side of the road and cover yourself or dress immediately.

"The nudity is specifically to draw attention to how vulnerable cyclists are when riding alongside motor vehicles, not to draw attention to you as an individual. Nudity in the Canterbury World Naked Bike Ride is NOT an excuse for self-exhibitionism."

Mr Terry said: "It's been a bit more awkward this year, but we've been working closely with police who wanted us to change the route and start at a different location.

"We're expecting it to be a lot bigger, with a couple of hundred people taking part. But anyone who isn't there for the same purposes as us will be removed."

Police said they have held discussions with the organisers, but have no legal right to ban the protest or enforce conditions on it.

Concerns raised last year included reports to police that a man had an erection.

Police received complaints about the lack of notice given to the public before the nude cyclists stopped for a rest in the Dane John Gardens and about the lack of warning to the business community.

The stop point has been moved to the council offices in Military Road this year.

A rider on last year's naked bike ride gives a message to critics

Police spokesman Lisa Humphreys said: "The route has been changed due to the new start/finish point which is more secluded, and the stop point is the council offices as opposed to Dane John Gardens.

"Police have assessed the impact of this event and the likelihood of disorder and crime is considered to be low.

"If required, additional police resources are available. We will engage with the protest on the day but will not be escorting the protest."

Council's naked bike ride tweet angers traders

There is no law against being nude in public in the UK, but using nudity to intentionally "harass, alarm or distress" is an offence.

The riders will meet at Canterbury Castle at 2pm on Saturday, before setting off at 3pm.

For more information, visit www.canterburywnbr.org.

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