IT was one of the most revealing protests Southampton had ever seen.

Onlookers could not believe their eyes when 200 people stripped off for a naked cycle ride through the city to protest against the global dependency of oil and motor vehicles.

Wearing nothing more than a cycle helmet and a pair of trainers, scores of riders of all ages, shapes and sizes pedalled through the city centre last night leaving a trail of surprised and smiling people behind them.

In the second year the peaceful protest has come to Southampton, twice as many riders joined the nude event which also aims to demonstrate how vulnerable cyclists are when they travel on a busy road surrounded by other vehicles.

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Drivers honked their horns in support as the cyclists, who had started from the eastern side of Southampton Common at Highfield, passed through Portswood.

By the time they reached the city centre, rounded the Bargate and headed up into Above Bar small crowds were waiting with their cameras ready to capture the revealing scenes.

City centre shop workers finishing for the day and restaurant customers enjoying food and drink in the sunshine also stopped to cheer on the protestors.

Not all cyclists took to the hour-long ride completely naked with many choosing to join the protest in beach gear or underwear, while others chose to paint themselves the colours of their favourite animals.

Southampton organiser Rob Jordan said the ride was all about having fun while driving home a serious message.

"Its great fun to ride and everyone enjoys taking part in the event," he told the Daily Echo.

"We get a lot of smiles and a lot of cheers as we go round.

"We really just want to draw attention to the issues we are promoting about oil dependency and get more people to spend more time on their bikes and less time in their cars."

"Last year in Southampton we had 102 people take part and it looks like we have got a lot more than this year. These events just keep getting bigger and bigger."

The Southampton ride was the first leg of the World Naked Bike Ride in the UK this year. Others are taking place in London and Brighton over this weekend.

More than 2,000 people are expected to take part across the UK in seven cities during June.