AFTER Saturday's World Naked Bike Ride in York, regular participant John Cossham explains why he takes part in the event.

He said: “I took part in the first York World Naked Bike Ride in 2006 because I'm a very keen cyclist and anything which celebrates cycling is something I'll support. However, I was wary of going naked, as I'm a children's entertainer and was worried that if I was seen naked, I might risk losing work. So I rode my unicycle dressed as Father Christmas, with a placard with a poem about the Arctic melting. I did the same the following year, but for the third year, I really wanted to experience riding naked... but was still shy of negative publicity, so I customised a box with eye-holes and wore that.

“I'm not a regular naturist, and I'm a bit self conscious about my belly and 'love handles', but on the fourth year I threw caution to the wind and cycled naked. It was a very liberating experience, and I always like the reaction of the onlookers which is overwhelmingly positive. I think that riding naked is a great way to show how vulnerable cyclists are, and it shows that whoever you are... young or old, fit or flabby, male or female, that cycling is a great way to get around.

“If we just had an annual bike ride, wearing normal clothing, we would get minimal publicity for the issues... anthropogenic climate change, peak oil, pollution, dangerous roads, the genius and simplicity of the bicycle. Riding naked is fun, feels nice and free, and draws attention to these important subjects, encouraging debate and maybe societal change.”

The bike ride began as a protest against oil dependency and car culture.

Riders gathered at the Millennium Bridge from 4pm, before setting off on a 90-minute course took in Ouse Bridge, Coney Street, Clifford’s Tower, Micklegate, the Mount and the Knavesmire.