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Are 'Naked Bike Rides' Legal?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Naked. Bike. Rides. Three mostly harmless words that you rarely see all in one place. But apparently they've come together in a big way for coordinated events around the globe which revel in the act of riding a bike naked in public.

But are these scantily clad cycling events legal?

Freewheelin' and Freeballin'

In most states around the country, there are indecent exposure laws which may prevent men and women from legally exposing their genitals in public.

Some states, however, only apply their indecency laws to those who show their man or lady parts for the purpose of sexual arousal or to shock others, allowing well-intentioned nudists to avoid prosecution.

Since naked bike rides have cropped up in cities around the nation, let's look at a few of these laws in major cities:

  • Philadelphia. The Philly Naked Bike Ride website describes it as a "BARE AS YOU DARE" event, likely because it is a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law to expose your genitals in a situation where it is "likely to offend, affront, or alarm."
  • Portland, Oregon. The Portland extension of the World Naked Bike Ride, set for Sunday, may be a bit freer than other cities, as Oregon law requires the intent to sexually arouse in order to make baring your privates in public a crime.
  • Madison, Wisconsin. Those Wisconsinites who want to lose their britches during the World Naked Bike Ride Madison should know that it is illegal to "publicly and indecently" expose your genitals.

The enforcement in any of the cities hosting naked bike rides may be lax, but you should be aware of the laws in your state before you bare your lower half on a bike.

Topless Riding Is More Accepted

While there is some legal queasiness regarding bikers showing their genitals, riders should be able to ride topless in almost any state.

Like driving while topless, you may be skirting the law in more conservative states like Utah, but most states seem to be OK with it. This may be in small part thanks to those who have sued governments over their unequal enforcement of public indecency laws. Their message: Female breasts are not lewd, and certainly no less appropriate for public exposure than male nipples.

Still, just to be safe, you'll want to check the nudity or public indecency laws in your state before you hit the road for your city's naked bike ride.

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