In The Buff, Police Call Their Bluff -- 2 Nude Bicyclists Arrested At Parade
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Wearing a helmet while bicycling is a necessity. Wearing only a helmet while bicycling - even during the anything-goes Fremont Solstice Parade - is a no-no.
Despite the boos of parade watchers, Seattle police yesterday arrested two bicyclists in the buff after they attempted to join the annual parade celebrating the start of summer. Several other nude bicyclists were able to elude police.
Bicyclists riding au naturel is nothing new to the quirky parade, which is known for participants in outlandish and sometimes risque costumes. But police say yesterday's arrests were made primarily for safety: The nude bicyclists typically dash quickly in and out of the parade audience.
"Freedom of expression is one thing . . . but what we're looking at is a safety issue," said police spokeswoman Christie-Lynne Bonner. "By making their way through the crowd like that, they could hurt people."
Last year, one child was nearly hit by one of the fast-moving bicyclists, so event organizers asked police to be present this year as a precaution, Bonner said.
Organizers of the 10th annual parade welcomed anyone to either watch or join in the parade and "strut your stuff in the street," according to a flier. They say the only rules are no written words, no motorized vehicles and no live animals.
But the popular and off-beat community parade, which kicked off the annual Fremont Fair, has become the unofficial parade route chosen by bicycle streakers.
"We recognize that there's a safety hazard and we want people to have a good time," said Eli Bowen of the Fremont Arts Council, which organized the parade. "They're not going to have a good time if they get hurt."
Yesterday, four officers descended on a group of nude bicyclists at Northwest 36th Street and Francis Avenue North, where they were able to arrest a 28-year-old man. All the others fled, Bonner said.
Another 28-year-old man was arrested at Northwest 36th Street and Evanston Avenue North as he passed a police command post, Bonner said.
Both were taken to the North Precinct and then released, Bonner said. Their cases will be forwarded to the King County Prosecutor's Office, where prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges, Bonner said.
The streakers could face a charge of lewd conduct, a misdemeanor.
But they could be charged with gross misdemeanors if they exposed themselves to someone under 14, Bonner said.
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