Posts in bike culture

August 15th, 2013  |  Filed under Playa Tips

Yellow Bikes: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know


Did you know that Black Rock City has a bikesharing program?

For the past few years an independently funded, DPW-organized fleet of “Yellow Bikes” (conveniently painted green) have been provided for community use. They’re easy to spot: Bright green, spraypainted with the words “Yellow Bike,” and usually left unlocked at the side of the road. That’s how it works: You ride it until you get where you’re going, then you leave it for the next Burner.


They never actually look this organized.

It’s a concept that our community is still catching onto, so the Yellow Bikes Crew Facilitator, Ballyhoo Betty, has put together a wealth of propaganda for your ingestion. Read on: Read more »

May 18th, 2011  |  Filed under Playa Tips, Preparation

DIY Your Burn: Bikes!

Hello out there! First off, I’d just like to thank everybody who stopped by my last post to talk about DIY shelter ideas, swamp coolers, Mylar and other ways to stay alive comfortable at Burning Man. If you haven’t checked that post, go read it now! You’ll learn more from the comment section than you will from my post, no doubt.


Hi folks! I’m sure everyone out there is busy getting gear together. Between fabricating the scorpion shell for your new art car, obtaining replacement links for your geodesic dome and trying to learn to walk in stilts, you’ve probably been too busy to think about your bike. Your two-wheeled steed isn’t something to leave for last, though, so I thought I’d better bring it up.

Black Rock City is a city of bikes. You need a bike to get you to the hidden art in deep playa, or the dance party at 3:15&D, or back home before the windstorm hits. I consulted the Department of Public Works and the Green Bike Project staff, and we all came up with some suggestions to make your cycling experience muy fantastico. Read more »

August 16th, 2010  |  Filed under Metropol

The Bike Culture of Black Rock City

[Matt Roth is Deputy Editor of Streetsblog San Francisco, and a rabid bicycle enthusiast working towards the realization of a world full of bike-friendly cities. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]

Photo by Michael Holden

Photo by Michael Holden

Anyone who has lived in a relatively flat and congested city can tell you the best way to get around is on a bicycle. The Chinese, the Dutch and the Danish know it, and increasingly Americans are coming to understand there are few modes of urban mobility as convenient and healthy as putting the fun between your legs and pedaling where you want, when you want.

As the legions of urban bicycle riders grow, city planners have begun to take note and have carved away precious space from several generations of begrudging motorists who have long believed streets were their sole domain. Politicians now boast of how many bicycle lanes they have added, sometimes buffered from traffic, sometimes painted green, red or blue. Some cities have instituted bicycle sharing systems, where a fleet of public bicycles are maintained for use by anyone who signs up and pays a small fee. The newest bicycle trend to gain popularity in cities around the world is the ciclovía, a car-free event where roads are opened to bicycles, skaters and pedestrians for the day to enjoy streets as public space for recreating and socializing.

Bike Arch by Ilana Spector and Mark Grieve, Photo by Waldemar Horwat

Bike Arch by Ilana Spector and Mark Grieve, Photo by Waldemar Horwat

Black Rock City, more than any other urban area, has been given over completely to bicycles, making it unquestionably the highest bikes-per-capita metropolis anywhere on the planet. The playa is the perfect place to ride, flat as a board and expansive. The prohibition on driving anything but art cars beyond the Esplanade makes Burning Man an enormous week-long ciclovía, and makes bicycles of the ultimate utility during the event.

Kinetic Sculpture Race, Photo by Christian

Kinetic Sculpture Race, Photo by Christian

As with most everything else on the playa, a simple bicycle, with one wheel in front of the other, would scarcely begin to capture the experience of participating in Burning Man, nor would it be very cool. Though the dynamics of bicycle engineering haven’t changed much in a hundred years, Black Rock City has spawned a menagerie of innovation, still pedal-powered, but only vaguely resembling a “bicycle.” There are giraffes and fishes, camels and glowing eyeballs, carriages adorned with mastodon bones, tall bikes five frames high, and an number of kinetic sculptures belching plumes of fire and smoke from their steel innards. Whimsy trumps utility and getting to the destination is less important than preening like a peacock along the way (a twelve-foot tall fire-spewing peacock, of course).

Read more »