ONLOOKERS cheered a group of naked cyclists as they protested through the rainy streets.
The controversial Naked Bike Ride had attracted fierce opposition but it went ahead yesterday – with cyclists stripping to raise awareness of dependency on fossil fuels and the vulnerability of cyclists.
Most of those who turned out to watch the spectacle were supportive, but one resident complained to police about the number of officers involved in the operation.
Sadie Layton, husband Neal and three-year-old daughter Erica, joined the ride.
The 39-year-old artist, from Southsea, said: ‘I realised there were no women cyclists and there were no mothers represented so I decided to take the brave, or perhaps foolhardy, step and join them.
‘I know there has been slight criticism about it being all male and that mothers were offended by it and I wanted to make the point that mothers use bikes and can stand up against car culture.
‘It’s a good cause and it was all very British yet it was nice to be part of something global at the same time. It was nice to do it on my home turf.’
Organiser Ian Henden said 28 people took part.
He added: ‘It was an excellent success.
‘We were greeted with lots of smiles and just the odd heckler.
‘I’m very pleased and thankful that so many people turned up.’
Portsmouth Family Church handed in a 1,400 name petition to Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Constabulary calling for the ride to be banned but did not protest on the day.
Chief Inspector Ali Heydari, commander for Portsmouth South, said the event – which was one of dozens happening around the country – passed without any disturbances.
She added: ‘The organisers co-operated fully with police and a route was agreed which took the cyclists around the city in around an hour.
‘They were accompanied by a police cycle team of six officers in order to minimise any impact to traffic and the wider community.
‘This tactic was successful, resulting in us only having to briefly halt the traffic at one junction to allow the cyclists to pass through one sequence of traffic lights.
‘Some people who were against the cycle ride had indicated that they may protest at the event itself.
‘We had to legislate for this and ensure there were enough police officers in attendance to maintain everyone’s safety and right to protest peacefully, hence the number of police cyclists originally planned was increased to six.
‘Response officers in the Southsea area were aware that the event was taking place and were ready to respond to any incidents or calls for assistance, as they would be with any large event.’
Ch Insp Heydari said they listened to campaigners fears but there was, legally, nothing they could do to stop it.