Naked Bike Ride Organizers Defend Their Event and the Right of Children to Participate

“We have participated several times,” says the mother of a 10-year-old girl who was photographed naked at the bike ride in June.

Oct. 31, 2023
By Bill Osmulski

This past summer, a 10-year-old girl rode naked on her bicycle through downtown Madison with hundreds of naked adults, and law enforcement refused to do anything about it. Assembly Republicans want to make sure that never happens again.

The event in question was the World Naked Bike Ride, which protests global warming while seeking to promote body positive attitudes. Madison is one of the cities where it is held annually.

Every year, many people get upset that a mob of naked adults expose themselves to families with children downtown. The bike ride’s route goes through a playground and the farmers markets. The riders always get away with it though. Law enforcement doesn’t consider naked adults riding their bikes past children as indecent exposure, because they claim there’s no sexual component to it. (Never mind the “pup boys” in the picture above.) This year, however, they might have gone too far.

Following the event, pictures of a naked 10-year-old girl started circulating around social media that were taken at the event. It was brought to the attention of Dane County Supervisor Jeff Weigand, who contacted the Dane County Sheriff and the Madison Police Department. Neither agency had any interest in conducting a serious investigation. The police claimed the district attorney told them it wasn’t a crime.

Weigand shared his account at a public hearing in the Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 31st. Republicans have two bills designed to stop the Naked Bike Ride once and for all. AB 503 would make it a crime to intentionally expose oneself in public. AB 504 would make it a crime to have children present when adults are exposing themselves in public.

The mother of the 10-year-old girl did not attend the hearing, but one of the bike ride’s organizers read a statement she wrote about the incident.

“As a parent, it is my responsibility to raise my daughter to be a thoughtful adult who is engaged with her community. The World Naked Bike Ride is a place of empowerment for my daughter and I. We have participated several times, because it is a rare situation where we can exercise freedom over our own bodies and be naked of liability for the behavior of others towards our bodies. I would like to believe that our community values freedom of speech, self-expression, and the right to protest. Those bills would do harm to those freedoms, and as a parent, I must try to preserve those freedoms so my daughter may continue to enjoy them,” according to the mother.

Opponents of the bills not only argued on behalf of their freedom of speech. They also claimed the bills would impose dress standards akin to Iran’s decency laws that require full hijabs for women. They said that lawmakers should leave the issue up to local control. They even claimed that the girl participating in the bike ride was up to her parents, and that Republicans should support parents’ right to raise their children how they see fit.