Portsmouth opposition to naked cycle ride

image captionSarah Carter, who organised the petition, said residents view the event as "indecent"

Almost 1,000 residents in Portsmouth have signed a petition to try to stop naked cyclists riding through the city.

The World Naked Bike Ride, a nationwide protest over car culture and oil dependency, will be held in the city for the first time on 10 June.

Sarah Carter, who is organising the petition against the event, said residents view it as "indecent" and "offensive".

Naked bike ride organiser Ian Henden, said it was "perfectly legal".

The event has been organised by environmental campaigners as part of World Naked Bike Ride, in which cyclists will wear little or no clothes in participating towns and cities across the world.

The route, which is up to six miles (9.6km), will start at the Canoe Lake, through old Portsmouth, through the city centre, and then back through Southsea.

Mrs Carter said: "If you saw someone walking naked down the road you would call the police and they would be arrested.

"They will be walking on foot through Palmerston Road, a major shopping area so people will be there with their children, it's just not acceptable."

But Mr Henden, who is organising the event in Portsmouth, said: "I see no reason why anybody should object and the petition that has been raised depends on exactly how the original questions were phrased", he said.

"The people in Portsmouth have been stirred up, we feel by a small core, of which Sarah Carter is one."

'Uphold the law'

Mr Henden said the event also highlights how vulnerable cyclists are on the road.

"There is a very common phrase in the cycling world known as the SMIDSY - sorry mate I didn't see you - it usually happens when a car or lorry driver has knocked a cyclist off their bike, but they'll certainly see us on Friday," he added.

Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person intentionally to expose their genitals where they intend that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress.

However, case law has established that the offence would not apply to a naturist who intentionally exposes their genitals without the intention to cause alarm or distress. Nudity in itself is not an offence.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: "We've been in contact with the event organisers who have assured us they do not intend to cause alarm or distress. Police will be on duty for the ride to prevent or deal with any apparent offences reported."

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