Naked bike ride outrage

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A Papamoa man wants to create a human chain to block a naked group bike ride planned next month along 7km of beach from Omanu to Papamoa.

The Tauranga New Zealand World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday, March 10 will take place along the beach from near Omanu Surf Club to Papamoa Domain.

The bike ride, to be held at low tide, will start at 2.30pm and will include spot prizes.

Organiser Andrew Pointon - who last year made headlines after he ran naked through McLaren Falls Park - said the event was not to promote naturism, but to protest about car emissions.

The World Naked Bike Ride is held in 70 cities in 20 countries around the world, but this is the first time it is to be held in Tauranga.

Its website says the event is about "protesting oil dependency and celebrating the power and individuality of our bodies".

In New Zealand, events are also planned for Takaka and Middlemarch, and Mr Pointon has previously participated in a Hawke's Bay event.

Mr Pointon said participants could wear "as much or as little" as they liked, and people would be clothed a couple of minutes before and after the ride.

"Everyone doesn't have to turn up in the nude, you can turn up in a clown costume if you want to."

Mr Pointon said the event was to protest against "the indecent exposure to car emissions".

He was passionate about the issues of car emissions and had been a cyclist all his life, using his car rarely.

Asked why the event was themed as "naked" if it wasn't about naturism, Mr Pointon said it drew more attention to the cause of emissions.

He expected the ride to attract controversy. "First time up, being a new concept, I'm all prepared for that. I can't see why Tauranga has to be the one in the world that would [have a problem]."

But news of the event has angered residents who live along the cycle route.

The issue of nudity has already been in the spotlight this summer after a Bay of Plenty Naturists event at Papamoa Beach attended by 60 people last month attracted criticism from local residents.

The area of Papamoa Beach between Sunrise Ave and Pacific View Rd is well-known as a nudist beach.

Sunbrae Grove Ave resident Ben De Kleynen said if he could get enough support from neighbours, he would form a human chain along the beach to force the Naked Bike Ride cyclists into the water.

Mr De Kleynen said he had received a huge amount of support after speaking out against nude activity in the area, and was "appalled" to hear of the latest event.

"It makes me angry because they seem to ignore the protests, they don't care. It's the provocation I'm against.

"If they want to ride naked on a bike that's up to them, but do it somewhere else. Up to 10-15km further south down the beach there's nobody there."

Fellow Sunbrae Grove resident Shaun Gallagher said the naked bike ride meant he would be forced to keep his granddaughters off the beach that day.

"I don't think it's very nice, I find it really quite offensive.

"There will be families down there building sandcastles.

"Where's it going to stop?

"It disappoints me that as a society, as a community, we allow people to do this."

He questioned why cyclists had to be naked to protest against car emissions.

"It does seem unnecessary. I think it's an exhibitionist thing.

"You don't have to take your clothes off. It's just another excuse to flaunt themselves."

Mr Gallagher said he was angry and frustrated that such events were allowed to take place.

He believed there would be an outcry if there was a similar event at the Main Beach at Mount Maunganui.

Mount Maunganui Neighbourhood Support coordinator Marie Gilpin said she was "totally bewildered" by the event.

"They need to have an awareness of how the majority of people feel about it.

"If I was doing something that was offending the majority of the population, I would be rethinking what I was doing and how I was doing it, whether or not it was legal or illegal."

Mr Pointon was not sure how many cyclists to expect, although the Takaka event began seven years ago with 30 participants and now attracted 100.

He was inspired to organise the Tauranga event after participating in one in Hawke's Bay which attracted what he said was "overwhelming" support: "It was like being in a Tour de France".

Mr Pointon had informed Tauranga City Council about the event, and was told that helmets must be worn and riders must be considerate of other beach users.

He planned to approach police with a flyer about the event.

Letsgetnaked.co.nz says there is no statute prohibiting nakedness in public.

In cases of "public nakedness" the police go to the Summary Offences Act 1981 and consider obscene/indecent exposure, offensive behaviour, or disorderly behaviour.

In cases of lewd behaviour, they look to the Crimes Act.

Last year the council received one complaint about nude bathers on beaches. Since June last year, Papamoa police have not received any complaints.

They have, however, received a couple of complaints about lewd behaviour in the sand dunes.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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