Published: 00:01, 05 April 2018
Canterbury’s controversial naked bike ride has been cancelled amid claims it “stinks of exhibitionism”.
But organisers say the decision has nothing to do with criticism levelled at the demonstration and is simply down to a failure to secure a suitable date.
Barry Freeman, who has been behind all five previous anti-car and traffic pollution protests, says the Sturry bus lane debacle eventually put the brakes on the planned ride.
The original date of May 26 had to be dropped because the public liability insurance was not in place in time for a risk assessment to be made to police by late February.
It was also affected by the-then planned Sturry Road bus lane scheme, which would have directed extra traffic onto roads used by the cyclists.
The ‘fallback’ date on the evening of June 29 also ran into problems because, although the insurance and risk assessment was in place, it still fell foul of the Sturry Road works.
Mr Freeman said: “I therefore decided, for the safety of would-be participants, not to hold a naked bike ride in Canterbury.
“After I’d made my decision, Kent County Council then called off the planned Sturry Road bus lane works, ironically stating there was too much traffic and it would cause chaos.
“Yet Canterbury remains one of the worst cities to cycle safely within or across, despite some good outer city routes for cyclists.
“Pollution levels are unacceptably high and to even consider another multi-storey car park shows how little thinking exists within the city council’s traffic management department.”
The demonstration is part of the World Naked Bike Ride protest against the over-reliance and use of cars and the risks posed to cyclists.
But chairman of the city council’s community committee Cllr Neil Baker has questioned the sincerity of the event.
Writing on the East Kent Civil Society Facebook page, said: “If they were actually regular cyclists making a protest about air pollution issues, they may have a point.
“But given the state of some of them, there is no way they are regular cyclists.
"You can spot a regular cyclist by their calves due to lactic acid build-up.
“Motorists tend to notice naked cyclists more than those wearing hi-vis clothing" - Brian Freeman
“There may be some who join in, but it stinks of exhibitionism to me.”
But Mr Freeman retorted: “The reason why we ride naked or almost naked is to underline that cyclists are vulnerable, flesh and blood.
“Motorists tend to notice naked cyclists more than those wearing hi-vis clothing.
"So the message remains, ‘see cyclists when they’re not naked’.”
Mr Freeman says anyone who would have taken part in Canterbury can join the Folkestone ride on Saturday, June 30.