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Nude cyclists set off on cheeky protest through busy shopping area in Canterbury

Police had to intervene when a cyclist became over excited as participants in a naked protest bike ride gathered for a cheeky demonstration around Canterbury on Saturday afternoon.

He put his jeans back on and calmed down after being spoken to by officers - but the event is aimed at getting city officials hot under the collar about traffic pollution.

In a response to complaints posted on Facebook, ride organiser Barry Freeman said: "We do not accept this behaviour and he was dealt with and removed before the ride started."

Dozens of riders, mostly men, stripped off as part of the World Naked Bike Ride - a campaign which highlights the dangers to health from vehicle exhaust fumes and the physical risks to cyclists.

Police talk to one man about his behaviour
Police talk to one man about his behaviour

But not everyone was impressed. Shannon Walters, who lives nearby said: "They claim they are protesting about safety but hardly any are wearing helmets. If they fall off, that's not going to help them either.
"I live just opposite and this is a tourist spot with children. There are other ways they can raise awareness."

But shoppers got more than they bargained for in the city centrewhen the brazen protestors breezed past, many with the bodies and bikes decorated with the message they are promoting.

The ridersleft the grounds of Canterbury Castle, which are popular with visitors, about 3.30pm for a three-mile route around and through the city.

Naked cyclists ride through Canterbury
Naked cyclists ride through Canterbury

Stuart from Tonbridge said: I'm a keen cyclist and think more should be done to make cities and large towns more cycle friendly.

Another rider Keith from Rye added: "I think it's important that lorry and car drivers understand the problems we face. Cycling naked highlights our vulnerability."

Both say they have had a beer so didn't feel nervous about baring all.

The naked cyclists set off.
The naked cyclists set off.

The route took them through thebusy Burgate and Buttermarket and along Rose Lane to Westgate Towers via The Old Weavers.

A protestor makes his point
A protestor makes his point

It is the third time the daring demonstration has taken part in Canterbury but last year there were some complaints, including about one man who turned up naked without a bike.

He was banned from joining future protests and new rules introduced by organisers for those taking part.

Photography at the assemble point at the start and end of the ride in the castle grounds was also being discouraged.

Naked cyclists protest in Canterbury
Naked cyclists protest in Canterbury

Police say they will be keeping a watching brief on the event.

Chief Inspector Kevin Dyer said: "The primary role of Kent Police in this event is to facilitate any peaceful protest and officers have been working with organisers and partner agencies with the aim of keeping people safe and minimising disruption to the city."

The bare bikers ride along the ring road. Photo: Kent 999s
The bare bikers ride along the ring road. Photo: Kent 999s

The bike rides, which take place in cities and towns around the world, are organised to highlight the dangers cyclists face from cars.

Naked bike ride organiser Barry Freeman
Naked bike ride organiser Barry Freeman

Co-organiser of the Canterbury event, Barry Freeman, says the event will focusses on the city’s traffic problems.

He said: "We were protesting against Canterbury City Council’s continuing failure to protect the public from the daily unacceptable levels of air pollution in the city, which breach EU permitted limits and the council’s own policy.

"Canterbury needs a drastic and radical change to how it controls the perceived need for private motor vehicle use. The city has become a slave to the motor car. 

"I challenge city councillors to get out of their cars and ride a bike for a day around and across the city to experience the dangers cyclists face and to suddenly find the cycle route ends just where it’s needed most.

"I call again for some traffic-free days in Canterbury – as they have every Sunday in Bristol. It would show how much more pleasant and healthier Canterbury could be without cars."

But city council spokesman Rob Davies said reducing congestion and traffic management was the responsibility of Kent Highways.

He added: "We are proposing lots more measures to promote walking and cycling in our new Draft Transport Strategy and encourage motorists to use park and ride.

"We also work closely with kent County Council on scheme to try and alleviate traffic congestion in the city."

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