Thousands of bicyclists in various stages of undress have pedaled their way around the city to promote fuel conservation and positive body image. The Philly Naked Bike Ride yesterday featured people sporting masks, underwear, body paint, glitter, or nothing at all. A lot of riders wore just their shoes. Debbie Kaighn, who was riding in the popular annual event for the third time, wore shoes, socks and body paint. On her front were streaks and splashes of yellow and green paint, and on her back was the message "Live free, ride nude." "I'm a naturist, and I believe in body freedom," she said. "And I'm also a cyclist." The 12-mile ride through the City of Brotherly Love is among many related to the World Naked Bike Ride movement.
Riders on the twisting course wheeled through University City, around the Rittenhouse Square park, down to City Hall and through Chinatown. Giddy crowds cheered them on while shooting photos and videos on their cellphones. Ed Blanton traveled from Arlington, Va., to ride nude in the Philly event for the fourth time "because I'm a bicyclist and it's fun." He wore just a sign on his back: "The earth is the Lord's." "I like to get this message out," he said before hopping gingerly onto his bike and riding off. Other riders supported assorted causes, including breast cancer research. One had painted on his back, "Burn fat, not oil." This is the seventh year of the Philly Naked Bike Ride, which draws about 3,000 participants. Organizers say they hope the event encourages people to bike more and to embrace nudity as a normal and enjoyable part of life. (Read more World Naked Bike Ride stories.)