TORONTO, Canada, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of cyclists strapped on their sneakers, helmets and not much else for the World Naked Bike Ride's 10th anniversary in Toronto over the weekend.
The event's dress code is "as bare as you dare". While most were completely naked, organizers say they encourage people to wear as much, or as little clothing as they choose, in order to foster an atmosphere of fun, solidarity and mutual respect.
The ride, which brought out close to 200 cyclists for the 14km trek this year in downtown Toronto, is a protest against car and oil dependency. Co-organizer Gene Dare, who's been a part of the movement for the last six years, believes it's a foolproof way to get people to stop and listen to what they have to say.
"This is the shock value. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) uses it for the treatment of animals, feminists use it in Ukraine and in Europe to bring a message to go topless and they do a protest," he said. "When you're naked, people notice, traffic stops and nobody complains."
The event first started in Vancouver back in 2003 as a peaceful, anti-war movement, which then transformed into a ride to raise awareness for cyclists and to protest against the oil-dependent society.
"I just want to tell people, be careful with oil consumption, there's other alternative energy to be used, electric cars, electric bikes, solar, it's pretty much unlimited 'cause people keep focusing on oil still," said Dare. "One day it'll all disappear."
Though nowadays, Dare says the bike ride has pretty much become a platform for people to protest about whatever they choose.
For 47-year-old John Sweeney, one of the dozens of nude cyclists who gathered in the park to mingle and paint environmental messages onto their bodies, his message was simple. As a nudist since he was 17, Sweeney says he's hoping people will start to accept him for who he is.
"It gives us the chance to show that you know what, there's nothing wrong with the human body, we're all born nude, there's nothing sexual about it, there's nothing perverse about it," he said.
While most were veterans at the event, there were also a few newbies, like 24-year-old Shelly, who drove three hours into Toronto on her own just to take part in her first ride.
"I couldn't convince anyone to come with me," she said. "I think they're just chicken."
Beginning in Canada, the event has now spread to over 75 cities in 17 countries.