Tower Hamlets Council served an injunction to cancel the bike ride in Victoria Park 48 hours before the start which was dismissed by the Royal Courts of Justice.
The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), which was due to set off from Victoria Park on Saturday 10 June, was cancelled after an injunction served by Tower Hamlets Council that was subsequently dismissed by the Royal Courts of Justice.
The WNBR is a worldwide event that started in 2004 to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists, protest against the global dependency on oil and celebrate body freedom.
Organisers of the annual bike ride announced on Twitter on Saturday 9 June that they had been alerted to the risk of a ‘disruptive demonstration’ in Victoria Park, adding: ‘We are unable to provide a start in the park this year. Tower Hamlets Council has asked that riders start from Tower Hill instead.’
Tower Hamlets Council also tweeted, less than 24 hours before the start of the race, that it welcomed the decision made by WNBR London: ‘to cancel the planned start in Victoria Park tomorrow.’
The Council informed Roman Road LDN that it had received 340 complaints about the proposed gathering at Victoria Park for the start of the naked bike ride rally. Victoria Park was one of nine planned starting points across London, having been added to the route in 2021.
Hundreds of local residents had written in to express their concerns in what appears to be an organised campaign to cancel the event.
‘Tower Hamlets Street Vlogs,’ an Instagram account with 18.6K followers, published a post on Friday 9 June welcoming the cancellation in a post that received 945 likes and 120 comments.
The caption states: ‘A planned naked bike ride which was supposed to start from Victoria Park then go through Mile End, Bow and through to Stratford has been cancelled due to pressure from the residents.’
It goes on to thank ‘each and every single person who copied and sent it to the Mayor Lutfur Rahman,’ which we understand to refer to complaints sent to the Mayor about the bike ride.
In the comments, Instagram users shared their concerns about children witnessing the ‘wholly inappropriate’ event, likening it to indecent exposure which is a crime.
A Council spokesperson said: ‘Organisers of the World Naked Bike Ride decided to cancel the planned start in Victoria Park on Saturday 10 June due to the risk of disruptive demonstration, and riders started from Tower Hill instead.’
However, we now understand that the Council served Naked Bike Ride with an injunction on Thursday 7 June, 48 hours prior to the event, to prevent the use of Victoria Park as a starting point for the bike ride.
The injunction was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday 8 June, the day before the race. This was despite the start having been registered and cleared with the Met Police several months prior.
According to Paul, an organiser at WNBR, the group challenged the injunction and found that it was prompted by an unspecified threat of a violent counter-demonstration. A representative from WNBR attended the Royal Courts of Justice where the injunction was dismissed.
He said: ‘We heard all the evidence that was presented, including all complaints. Only six complaints were presented and the judge said the others were definitely duplicates.’
According to Paul: ‘The complaints were clearly written by one person and referred to behaviour not associated with the ride. Events such as the ‘No Trousers Tube Ride,’ for example, which is totally unrelated to us [WNBR].
‘The judge actually threw out the injunction as they felt it was low in substance and poorly executed.’
Despite the injunction being dismissed, organisers of the bike ride made a collective decision to cancel the proposed starting point in Victoria Park to protect the safety of their participants and to prevent any potential disruption.
While the Council spokesperson initially made no mention of the injunction when talking to Roman Road LDN about the reasons for cancelling the bike ride, they have since clarified: ‘We received hundreds of complaints about the naked bike ride rally starting in Victoria Park, from residents who were concerned about indecency in an area popular with families.
‘In considering the complaints, and after failing to persuade the event organisers to take up a different location elsewhere we felt it was appropriate to seek a court injunction.
‘The injunction application was not heard, as an agreement was reached at court between the parties not to use Victoria Park on the 10 or 17 June 2023, and therefore it was neither granted or refused. The injunction order was dismissed upon withdrawal.’
On the day of the ride, organisers of the annual peaceful campaign allocated two professional security guards and two marshals to re-direct any riders who were not aware of the change of location. Their request for a police presence was granted, and it is believed that Tower Hamlets also sent a security team.
No violent protests or protestors were seen during the event, and the bike ride occurred with no incidents.
WNBR has stressed its eagerness to work with Tower Hamlets Council to ensure trouble-free rides in the future.
Roman Road LDN approached Tower Hamlets Street Vlogs for a comment but is yet to receive a reply.
If you enjoyed reading this article you might like our piece about London’s first inclusive cycling centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
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