9 tips for Burning Man bikes
Bikes are an integral part of Burning Man, and as a virgin, you have to have a bike. You can choose in your second year not to have one, but for your first year, get one. Here are 9 tips for Burning Man bikes.
1. Always put your bike somewhere memorable
First thing: develop the discipline to put your bike somewhere meaningful and memorable, especially in crowded areas. Be intentional and habitual in this regard. Look around. What’s a good solution? At the far left area beyond the bar? Or over by an art installation on the side closer to The Man? Or at a 45 degree angle from the dance floor when you walk out? Take the time to put your bike up when you arrive at a new place.
Always be purposeful about where you’re putting your bike and take a good look around to know how to find it later among the many shiny (and often moving) objects.
2. Always lock your bike
Always, always, always lock your bike. (The one place where this isn’t as much of a concern is at the portos.)
3. Locking your bike to other bikes
Sometimes it’s quite helpful to lock all your group’s bikes together. Perhaps your camp is out and about and traveling as a group. Putting all your bikes together and locking them up can save time and just make things easier when arriving and leaving. Other times it’s more of a liability. For yourself: know whether you want to lock your bike to someone else’s or lock your own bike by itself. (You never know what someone else’s journey or plan is, and they don’t know yours.)
4. Park with consideration
Always be smart about where you park your bike. Look around you. Where are people walking and going? Are you blocking the flow of pedestrians and cyclists? Is your bike easy to locate? Is it lit (even when parked) so that no one will hit it or run over it with an art car?
5. Look for bike racks
Always look for bike racks and park your bike in or near a rack if a camp offers one.
6. Never park in a street
Never—regardless of whether others are doing so—park your bike in a street, most especially not on the Esplanade.
7. Don’t park in front of big camps
Never park your bike in front of a camp with a lot going on and a lot of people there, e.g. a crowded bar or dance scene. (Cumulatively these parked bikes can become a danger and sometimes the Black Rock City Rangers will tell theme camp organizers that they have to move the bikes immediately or be shut down until they do. I have more than once been part of an en-masse bike-moving brigade where we were sometimes picking up three or four bikes locked together and moving them out of the road. Look for “bike parking” signs at larger camps. They are there for a reason.
8. Make space for others
Always be kind and respectful of others when parking your bike by being mindful of where you put your bike. Look around at the other bikes nearby. Did you just block someone in? Did you just make it difficult for someone else to get their bike out? Did you just take up the equivalent of five spaces at a crowded lecture? Your bike may very well get moved for you if you don’t place it well. Note: For larger camps and events, there are often bike handlers and camp members on bike duty. If someone tells you should or shouldn’t park your bike in a certain area, listen and do as they say. They have reasons that, while perhaps not apparent to you in the moment, are logical in the bigger picture of things.
9. Take your bike when you leave our beautiful
Our community is a Leave No Trace event. Period. Part of why we’re such a darn cool group of people is that we are responsible adults who don’t leave our trash and problems at other people’s feet. That includes you, and that includes your bike. Figure it out. If you need to rent a bike from the growing number of businesses that rent playa bikes that are both delivered to the playa (meaning you don’t have to ferry it in) and you drop your rented bike back at their camp location when the event is over. Easy solution!
The 2017 debacle with over 5000 people abandoning their bikes for others to take care of and dispose of was not only a disgrace but a dangerous indication of too many people attending Burning Man who aren’t acculturated to the 10 Principles. Don’t be that guy (or gal). Figure it out! You can rent a bike from a service that allows you to pick up and drop off your bike at their camp (though you have to do the transaction before the event). This solution removes the challenge of transporting your bike to and fro. Hammer and Cyclery is one such option. Others options exist as well.
Oh, and NEVER lock a yellow bike. It’s a community bike. You can’t hide it, bring it in your camp or lock it.