The “Bare as You Dare” nude bike ride is an outrage, and Missoulians ought not to stand for it.
Oh, we’re not upset at the nudity – although that has plenty of residents rolling their eyes.
Nor is it about ignoring state law in order to permit rampant indecent exposure – although Missoulians are right to call the city out on that too.
It’s just that the whole idea is so ... unoriginal.
Naked bike rides are held around the world as a way of calling, ahem, attention to bicycling as a mode of transportation that is often given short shrift in places dominated by motor vehicles. In some cities these rides are also used to promote the laudable goal of body acceptance.
The entire movement now spans dozens of cities in nearly a dozen countries. The organizer of Missoula’s impending “Bare as You Dare” event says she was inspired by a ride in Portland, Oregon, which has apparently been making a thing of it for years now.
Haven’t we had just about enough of people trying to turn Missoula into another Portland? Missoula is more creative than that, aren’t we? Are we content to just copy other cities?
Just getting partially or totally naked on a bike is lazy. It lacks creative ambition. And that is so totally not Missoula.
If you really want to catch people’s attention and sway them to your cause, consider doing something more original – and effective. Any adult – and many children – understands that once nakedness is brought into the conversation, the entire conversation becomes focused on nakedness. If protesters are sincere about wanting to draw attention to the transportation problems caused by an over-reliance on cars, maybe the ride should be more focused on that particular topic.
Missoula has been known, for instance, to organize a Pedal vs. Metal Challenge that pits bicycles against cars in a race to complete a number of errands downtown. Of course, that idea is a copy too, with similar events taking place from New York to Colorado. But at least Missoula’s challenge comes as part of Bike Walk Bus Week, which offers myriad creative opportunities to promote biking while preserving Missoula’s own distinct flavor.
In any case, Missoula is clearly a bicycle-friendly community. Awareness is already quite high.
Besides, there are an infinite number of ways to call attention to a cause. It would be nice to see more home-grown ideas embraced here at home. And who knows? Maybe someday, somebody might be inspired by an event that got its start in Missoula.
EDITORIAL BOARD: Publisher Jim McGowan, Editor Sherry Devlin, Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen