Naked cyclists treat motorists to "21-bum" salute

By Mathew Dearnaley

Police ordered naked cyclists to get their gear back on in Auckland yesterday, after arresting their leader for alleged indecent exposure.

Even so, motorists were treated to a "21-bum" salute, equating to the number of scantily-clad but helmeted cyclists who rode from Symonds St to Karangahape Rd to protest against the world's dependency on oil-fuelled transport.

They all had to wear underpants or briefs after the police intervention, although several female cyclists were allowed to remain topless.

The expose was part of the "World Naked Bike Ride", a growing movement in which cyclists in 15 countries are daubing their flesh with anti-oil slogans to "reclaim the streets for people", said Auckland organiser Simon Oosterman.

Similar rides are taking place in Golden Bay and at Lake Tekapo.

Mr Oosterman, a union worker, missed out on the Auckland ride as he was arrested at the start for refusing a police order to cover up.

He intends pleading not guilty to a charge of indecent exposure when he appears in court on Thursday, but has yet to decide whether to turn up naked.

"We were trying to draw attention to the indecent exposure suffered by Aucklanders to car fumes and the lives lost as a result," he told the Herald after being released on bail.

"What's really indecent is the fact that 250 people die in Auckland each year from vehicle-related pollution," he said.

"Cars rule Auckland's streets to the detriment of community spirit, human health and the environment."

Mr Oosterman was also annoyed that police did not allow the convoy to cycle down Queen St, diverting it along Karangahape Rd instead, under close escort by two patrol cars.

Even so, his group leaves a hard act for Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard to follow on Wednesday, when he intends joining hundreds of presumably better-clad cyclists who will pedal to Aotea Square for an annual "Bike to Work" breakfast.

Everyone who cycles to the event, which will mark Bike Wise week, will receive a free "nutritious" breakfast to the accompaniment of live music.

North Shore City Council is hosting a similar event in Takapuna on Wednesday, inviting cyclists to join group rides with police escorts from Northcote, Bayswater or Forrest Hill.

Another group of bikers held up traffic in Auckland yesterday.

Ulysses Motorcycle Club spokesman Chris Wikaira said more than 1500 riders joined its annual charity run from Karaka in South Auckland to Northcote, after which the organisation gave a $11,000 cheque to the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Bridge traffic was delayed for up to half an hour as police closed motorway on-ramps to allow the mainly middle-aged - and well-clad - motorcyclists past.

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