How We Solved the Great Bikeageddon of 2017

This year, 3,754 bikes were abandoned by participants with no regard for the principles of being a Black Rock City citizen. People either dropped the bikes carelessly, or they left them unlocked to be stolen and abandoned. This created tons of work for other Burners just like them, who spent days cleaning them up and getting them hauled off playa. We’re sharing this story of how they pulled it off so Burners can realize the impact of their actions on their fellow participants, plan accordingly, and pack out everything they bring — including bikes.


Burning Man’s Community Yellow Bike Program has a simple mission: to mobilize the citizens of Black Rock City with human-powered public transit. Each year, this department releases a fleet of Yellow Bikes onto the streets of Black Rock for free, public use. The rules are simple: Don’t lock them. Don’t modify them. Wear pants.

In addition to maintaining the existing community fleet, this department also:

  • Adds several hundred new bikes to the community fleet each year (to compensate for theft and population growth) using donated/abandoned Huffy Cranbrooks from the previous year
  • Runs Bicycle Lost & Found
  • Conducts the abandoned bike cleanup effort on playa
  • Equips the on-site Burning Man staff with dedicated personal bikes

This year, the Community Yellow Bike Program:

  • Added 216 frames to the community fleet (all from donated/recovered 2016 Huffy Cranbrooks)
  • Rolled out 871 tuned up community bikes onto the streets of Black Rock City
  • Gave away 150 bikes to DPW for personal use during the work season and helped tune up >100 additional crew bikes

We were proud of these numbers and recovered 89% of our community bike fleet post-event, leaving us with 779 Yellow Bikes for next year (although 33 of those were heavily vandalized and will need a significant amount of time and energy to return to the fleet next year).

And then, the abandoned bike clean up effort began. A conservative (and astounding) 3,754 bikes were gathered during this process, beginning the evening of Monday (September 4) through the following Monday (September 11). To put this in perspective, the number of abandoned bikes we’ve cleaned up over the past several years has ranged from ~1,400–1,900. This dramatic spike in numbers was unexpected to say the least, and combined with the community fleet clean up effort, >4,500 bikes were gathered and processed in this single week. This daunting task could not have been accomplished without the help of many other crews, and I’d like to personally thank Burning Man’s HEaT (Heavy Equipment and Transpo) Department for their consummate efforts, which took place after their already exhausting work hours.

Over the past several years, the Community Yellow Bike Program has donated the abandoned bikes (after they’ve cleared Lost & Found) to a handful of nonprofits, including the Kiwanis Club, the Delores Huerta Foundation and the Reno Bike Project, to name a few. We give priority to organizations that conduct community-based, charitable programming, and target underserved communities. We’ve maintained an unofficial policy of not publicizing the wonderful projects we donate to, for fear that it would give the Burning Man community greater license to irresponsibly ditch more bikes on the event site. (An abandoned bike, for the record, is MOOP, and we struggle with our resources to handle this issue every year.)

By Monday, September 11, we’d maxed out the capacity of the nonprofits we’ve historically worked with, and still had a staggering number (>1,500) of bikes left on site, all of which needed to be removed by end of day Wednesday, September 13. In the five years I’ve managed this project, we’ve never sent a single usable bike to a scrapper or landfill, which was the final destination for these bikes unless a miracle should occur within 48 hours.

Sure enough, several small miracles occurred. DPW friends activated their networks and reached out to local contacts, resulting in a steady stream of trucks and trailers that arrived on site to help. Bikes were scooped en masse, destined for the Paiute Reservation, local neighborhoods, hurricane disaster relief in Texas and the Caribbean, and communities in Gambia, West Africa, again, to name only a few. By the time the final scrapper came at noon on Wednesday, we had a meager pile of three partial bike frames and four wheels, all of which appeared to have been run over by vehicles and were well beyond the point of repair.

During this madness, I met many amazing individuals who spent personal funds and energy to get keep this staggering resource from the landfill. I was humbled by the participation and immediacy of this communal effort, all in the name of civic responsibility and leaving no trace. It was an impromptu spectacle that seemed to display all of Burning Man’s principles in action.

The Great Bikeaggedon of 2017 leaves us with three big questions:

  1. Why the sudden jump in numbers this year?
    The nearly 100% increase in abandoned bikes took us by surprise. Some folks point out that the Census shows a large number of first-time Burners, but that’s been true for a few years now. I personally think a variety of factors are at play, and I look forward to teasing them out in the weeks to come, but one thing is for sure: The worst areas of the city were the 9:00–10:00 o’clock side of the grid, where bike piles numbered in the hundreds. While we cannot clearly attribute a bike pile at a specific location to the camp that once existed there — these bike piles accumulate in the days following Theme Camp strike — I would encourage the community to look at what’s happening in that general neighborhood and look for ways to encourage better behavior.
  2. Why don’t we just let people take abandoned bikes away and unburden ourselves of this cleanup catastrophe?
    By consolidating abandoned bike cleanup through a DPW department, we have the means to run Lost & Found and ensure we are not dealing with stolen goods. This also allows us to clamp down on profiteering and pirating that inevitably follows close at the heels of a resource stockpile, and instead divert that resource to charitable causes.
  3. What can we do differently next year?
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but what Black Rock City can do differently next year is PACK OUT ALL OF OUR BIKES! If you’d prefer to donate your bike to a good cause rather than bring it home, that’s your responsibility. Leaving it for other Burners to handle flies in the face of what Burning Man is all about. Nevertheless — as always — we handled it.

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped out.


Top photo by Logan “Cobra Commander” Mirto

About the author: Ballyhoo Betty

Ballyhoo Betty

Ballyhoo Betty has been working for DPW since 2011 and managing Burning Man’s Community Yellow Bike Program since 2013. In addition to participating in Regional Burns around the world, she is an avid supporter of cycling communities, teaches yoga, and works in digital design.

140 Comments on “How We Solved the Great Bikeageddon of 2017

  • Kwong Chew says:

    Thank you for holding this part of the equation. I have a slightly strange request/question. I live in Grass Valley and a person here claimed he went on Monday with a 40′ trailer and took 2200 bikes to Sacramento’s poor and homeless – he later changed the figure to “about 1500”.
    I am suspect. Would you be able to confirm or refute his generous act?

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    • Don't be lame says:

      Why do you care? Trying to shame him?

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      • Corsolo says:

        He never mentioned anything about shaming…. he just wants to know the truth of the matter… everything is not perfect at BM and I suspect most would be concerned about the honesty in this matter… it’s the simple things that make most of us, and us as a whole, just a little better… an extention of the 10 principles.

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    • Travis says:

      1500 seems like a lot to be able to get into a single 40′ trailer – it’s almost refutable by common sense – 38 bikes per linear foot would be better packing than I’ve ever managed in life.

      However, even if they took the time to get 1000, or 500, or 100 bikes, help clear the playa, and *give* them away – it’s worth being happy over.

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      • Amann says:

        Hello, in a 40ft container you can pack 450-500 bikes, i know it because i collect bikes in europe to send in africa for poor people.
        Hope this can help

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      • BCup says:

        Agree with Amann. No way. It’s not my intent to shame anyone, but just to call bullshit.

        I used to work with an awesome nonprofit in Boston called Bikes Not Bombs.

        BNB has a very specific system of “flattening” bikes that is long time-tested for jamming as many bicycles into a single shipping container as possible. Flattening is taking off the pedals (and re-installing them on the inside of the crank so they poke back into the frame cavity), removing the saddle and lowering or removing the seatpost, lowering and turning the handlebars to be parallel to the frame, sometimes pivoting them, zip-tying stuff, removing extraneous accessories, etc. If you’re REALLY REALLY good at it, and working in good conditions with a set of the proper tools, it takes minimum 3-5 minutes per bike, and that’s a bike in good shape, no rust, not playafied, etc.

        BNB generally manages to get 450-500 bikes into a single shipping container, with a trained and experienced volunteer and staff group of 10+ people.

        There is no way in hell that a single person showed up with a 40′ trailer and got even 500, much less 1,500, bikes into it in a single run. Nope. Noppity nope nope nope. It would take several days and a team of trained volunteers and several trips to make this work.

        What I don’t understand is why someone would lie about something like this.

        On the content of this post: it’s revolting. There are SO MANY options to get a bike to, and FROM, playa. Put that shit back on your car and donate it to Kiwanis. I don’t believe for a second that it’s only “virgins”/”birgins”; I’m confident a big part is the 12th Principle: Radical Self Entitlement, including from longtime Burners.

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  • eo says:

    What do you think about having designated bike donation locations set up and managed by receiving organizations? They could come in near the end of the event and set up signs. Portapotties might be a good location, as I saw several bikes accumulating at my closest porta potty location.

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    • Drew says:

      This is a wonderful suggestion because one of the issues it seems is that people do not have room in their vehicles to get the bike off playa. That is not excuse, but since we are having the discussion, why not try to offer a solution. If the donating organizations were on playa as of Saturday, folks could drop their bikes off and everyone wins.

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    • Alpha says:

      This already exists – there were at least two, perhaps three this year including bikes for Africa. They maxed their capacity by Tuesday the 5th.

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  • Penny says:

    Absolutely fucking shameful.

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  • Stealthy says:

    Great insight into this years bikeageddon Betty, and congrats on all your work with DPW on the yellow bike program. Was there a particular model of abandoned bike, as there may have been a common fault causing people to abandon bikes that were unrideable? I’ve always discouraged people from buying cheap bikes for the burn as they are unreliable and have a limited life. Maybe more education on bike options to ticket holders is required?

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  • Hans Scott says:

    God bless all you that de moop.

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  • Easyplaya4e says:

    Thanks to the DPW for the clean-up. This may be controversial, but what about a $500 bike deposit to bring a bike in, which is refundable when you take a bike out. I realize it might be hard to administer, but I see this problem only getting worse next year.

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    • burnerdude says:

      Great idea. It’ll only add about 9 hours of wait to exodus

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    • FF says:

      Oof! That will REALLY ramp up theft by people who lost their bikes, which I suspect is the major problem. Some kind of locator device would be more useful, I think.

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      • Phaidros Fall says:

        I think providing an inexpensive way for people to track their bike if its stolen or lost is the answer (seriously, forgetting where you left it because 52 significant things happened in a row that suddenly have you far from your bike and memory is thin from dehydration or other causes, happens more than naught). I’m super big on packing out all that I bring, but in 2016, on the last day, my bike was either stolen or I misplaced it. Im still not sure which. I looked everywhere I could think of in back tracking but to no avail. Point is, if you dont know where your bike is, you can’t pack it out. Simple.

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      • Phaidros Fall says:

        Would probably cut theft down too if peeps knew they could be tracked down too.
        RFID maybe? Smart chips like they use in phones? Pondering the how…could make a great business opportunity.

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    • Erica says:

      That’s a little steep some for some of us out here. As a low income ticket recipient, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Burning Man at all if an extra $500 was required. I didn’t spend that much on my entire trip. I packed my bike out, like I was supposed to.

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    • HOLLY says:

      I had a similar thought but that each bike must be stickered in advance (like the vehicle pass). This would make it easy to identify the owners and, if necessary, issue a charge for abandoned bikes. It may not make sense but it seems there needs to be some form of accountability for MOOP that large.

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      • Desert Silence says:

        I agree with the bike-sticker idea, but it has difficulties. First, what about bikes that are stolen? Everyone should lock their bike, but it is unrealistic to expect that we can take theft down to zero.

        Then we have the difficulties of moving this gigantic mob in and out of the event. Already it’s monstrous. Adding one more factor seems unwise.

        Something more structural, like instituting a bus service so fewer people need bikes, might work. The only counter argument I can think of is cost.

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  • Playa Nai`a says:

    Humble gratitude for your great effort, keepin’ the playa MOOP-free.
    Yes, I packed out my trusty bike; need it for next year.

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  • Mark DeCew says:

    I’ve always thought a good solution to the problem would be to build a building where we could store all the bikes and leave them there for next year. So much wasted energy transporting bikes on and off the playa. What if you had the option to rent a space to store your playa bike for your next burn or gift it someone else if you weren’t going. Some work, yes, but would help solve many problems associated with bikes AND provide a new income stream for the Org or an entrepreneur.

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  • Papa Bear says:

    I’d suggest an addendum to the “what can we do differently next year” question, that being:

    1 – Bring a bike lock and use it consistently.
    2 – Don’t take a bike that isn’t yours, unlocked or not.
    3 – Pack it back out – even if it’s broken, it’s still your responsibility.

    Veterans also need to up our game in not only reminding newbies of those rules, but also in dispelling the myth even some veterans believe that “it’s ok to leave bikes, they just get donated”.

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    • Judy Horton says:

      I agree…each Burner should just do the right thing. My boyfriend and I were first time Burners this year. We drove fromMemphis, TN with 2 bikes on the back of my Subaru, tent camped, and drove back across the country with our bikes. (Even after being rear-ended in Exodus line with slight damage to bike rack.) If we had flown, I would have planned arrangements to leave no trace, including bikes. We are supposed to research and plan. Being a Newbie is no excuse…no one has an excuse.

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    • teh REAL burning man says:

      Some commenters have said that we should dispel the myth that it’s OK to leave bikes because they get picked up and donated.

      But at the end of the day, it was OK to leave bikes, they all got picked up and donated.

      Burning Man will be back next year. The BLM has not revoked their land use permit. The sky is not falling. Bikegeddon is a false apocalypse. The number of abandoned bikes doubled, and sun came up the next day. Yes, a few hundred volunteers did a lot more work than they signed up for and they had a bad week.

      But if it’s really a problem, then big problems require big solutions. The conceit of liberalism is that “education” and “raising awareness” (i.e. complaining) will reduce all problems to zero. If the BORG has a problem, and if complaining in ALL CAPS on facebook all year didn’t work last year, why try it this year?

      If the BORG really wanted to, they could add $100-$150 to the ticket price and include a bike rental. Then drop 70k bikes on playa and truck them out again. $7M-$10M per year will pay for a lot of bikes cleanup and storage. Problem solved. Most people are paying that much to rent or buy or transport bikes as it is.

      There are other radical solutions that could be tried, if there were the will.

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  • Dusty MK says:

    Idea: Difficult to arrange but…
    Sell bicycle pass returnable at exit….

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    • surharper says:

      Good idea… although I wonder how much longer that would take to get in and off the playa. One more thing to do could back up the lines even further.

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    • Silvergirl says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Or one could print one online and have it ready when the vehicle is checked @ gate, or at the greeter/census stop. Comes with a bike sticker. In the day prior to leaving , stop by a bike check e.g. next to Arctica, and check that bike attached to your name is in your possession. If bike is lost/stolen during week, you must report to L+F and have case # or whatever. I guess that wouldn’t stop pug and play bike delivery, but they could go thru same process too. Better to track bikes to whomever left them….
      Kudos to DPW for cleanup, but the burden of de-mooping should go to us all….

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  • Tuxedo says:

    My theory is the plug and play campers don’t have a vested interest in clean up because they didn’t actively build their camp and don’t understand what it takes to deconstruct or demoop

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    • Desert Silence says:

      Probably.

      Do plug and play camps get charged extra? Given all the work they create, they should. Then if the org relies on volunteers to clean up after them, aren’t they capitalizing the benefits and socializing the costs, as the saying goes?

      Perhaps they should be charged extra, and the money used for cleanup. The downside would be, would they regard this as a license to MOOP? On the other other hand, they seem to do a lot of this anyway.

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  • Tony says:

    Great work and thank you for the extra and unnecessary expenditure of resources to clean up after people who obviously should know better. However, I believe the I have some insight into the matter, I have been going to burning man for the past 13 years nowabd have encountered numerous first time attendees – people who fly in from other States and other Countries with bikes and they simply do not want them. First we have to remember how the total number of attendees has grown with a high percentage of newbies and a lack of concerns and or education to remove the bikes off the Playa. And as for the types of bikes ? They are all types, so costing as much as $ 500.00 +

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  • BlueBerry says:

    At the Burn this year, I saw lots of signs and heard radio announcements for Donate Your Bike to Africa at such-n-such address. I feel this contributed to lots of people thinking, “I’ll just ditch my bike and someone will take it to the Africa collection point” . On the other hand, I know I picked up as many abandoned bikes as I could handle and took them to the Bike to Africa cargo trailers.

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    • Jewel Peot says:

      I saw the sign too, around the 10:00 area, with a big truck, asking for donated bikes for Africa. I even considered dropping off my bike. This could have added to the confusion.

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  • surharper says:

    We were given bikes by our foreign neighbors who had bought bikes, but had no way to fly them back to Europe. We’ve ended up taking 8 bikes back to store then lend/give to future burners. There was a foreign group that left at least 20+ bikes in pile. We stripped a few for the lights, but could take no more. Over the years it seems many of the bikes are left by people who have flown in, rented a car or RV, bought new or used bikes, and then left them on the playa. Why they left them… I can only guess they don’t understand they are moop or they don’t know where to leave them except in a dumpster somewhere, so they leave them on the playa hoping they won’t become trash. Anyway, wish I had some easy to implement solution, but I don’t… so thanks for all of the work.

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    • Dawn says:

      I think you have “hit the nail on the head”. There are more and more people coming from all over the world – I cannot tell you how many people we met from outside the US this year. They are all reading about how important it is to have a bike on-playa and that the ratio of yellow bikes on playa is low and they are not a reliable mode of transport (since they must be left available for somone else to use).
      These are people who flew into Reno, picked up a cheap bike and did not know what to do with it when the event was over. They were truly bewildered about what to do with them because they can’t take the bike home.
      I was located on a main street and I had about 10 people come offering their bikes. People seemed leery of dropping them off playa at the “donation stations” thinking they were being cleaned and sold for money. Maybe we can work with a couple of charitable organizations PRIOR to the event to station drop – offs and publicize it at the airport, etc.
      Telling people to take their bikes home won’t work because there is no other outlet for them to use. I’m not saying take the bikes home for them but prior to the event give them contact information to arrange alternate options for them to follow. (kinda like the contacts for trash drop-off) Otherwise they are just going to continue to leave them.

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      • Erized says:

        And yet, somehow they managed to get them from Reno to the Playa….but not back to Reno.

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      • Alison says:

        Even them furriners can burn properly you know. I’m a burner from the UK, first time at the Man (but been to plenty of regionals), and I can’t drive. My solution to the bike problem? Playa Bike Repair, who did a fantastic job. Definitely worth paying a little more than a bike from Walmart to make sure I had a bike waiting for me and knowing that I wasn’t contributing to the moop problem. It just requires a bit of thought.

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      • Zephyr says:

        A lot of people say it’s international burners and even seem to have some sympathy with the situation. It is harder when you fly in to be fair, BUT I’ve been to the burn from the UK twice now. The first time I rented a bike from playa bike repair and this time I bought one and am storing it and ny other bm stuff in a shared storage unit with since campmates. Coming from abroad is not an excuse!

        Also, not all of us international burners are bad!!

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  • Kraig Meyer says:

    First of, thanks to all of you who de-MOOP. I wouldn’t wish the problem of relocating 4000 bikes on anyone. Like other posters, I do wonder about the source of the problem : too many newbies, too many plug and play campers, too many weekend warriors. While newbies bring fresh blood and ideas to the playa, I wish the Borg was open to some of the more radical ideas to reduce plug and play and weekend warrior campers that have been suggested so many times on these forums and seem to go unneeded.

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  • roissy says:

    The Great Bikeaggedon of 2017, blame it on the eclipse.

    BTW: Thank you for not dropping off the Yellow Bikes inside the Cafe this year…

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    • Desert Silence says:

      I think the eclipse was part of the problem this year. So many people came from all over the place, and all over the world, to make a two-fer out of it: eclipse and BM. This would mean, as it seems to have meant, an increase in new people and an increase in people from overseas. If this is right things should go easier next year.

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  • FF says:

    Thanks for resolving this problem!

    Maybe we all need to bring one of these finder gadgets with our bikes? It was pretty clear to me that there were a lot of bikes left at the Tree–I doubt they were abandoned, just lost.

    https://www.amazon.com/JTD-Wireless-flashlight-Receivers-Finder-Wireless/dp/B00R1ZEBUW?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00R1ZEBUW

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  • Ashke says:

    When I first came to Burning Man in 1997, a good bike for playa was something I envied. Having no way to store a bike off playa, I walked everywhere when I wasn’t hitching a ride on an art car. (Still think walking is one of the best ways to meet new friends.)

    The city got bigger, the need for bikes grew. In 2015 my knee blew out on playa. After years and the weeks of walking the joint straining uneven playa roads. I limped in extreme pain to the burn on Saturday of that year.

    2016 I finally bought a bike and brought it onto playa. Damn if that $125 Walmart Huffy didn’t do the job and made it so I didn’t blow my knees out as I worked my calling at BM.

    2016 was when I talked to several of the bike camps. I wanted to buy a good bike, not a $125 huffy. A bike I could pimp out, find a way to store it and have it on playa the following year and was wondering how this could be accomplished.

    That’s when I learned that some of these good guys who were indeed fixing bikes for free to help people, were also making money renting bikes for the folks on the playa. Personal bike storage and transport was not in their calling or business model.

    In 2016, I worked with my camp to take my first playa bike, that $125 huffy to storage with our camp. That is not a good or even reliable choice IMHO for a bike you really care about when decisions have to be made of what will and won’t be stored and brought back to playa the next year.

    No storage in my apartment here in San Francisco unless I want to start an intimate relationship with an inanimate object. (Not judging those who made use of the public fleshlight this year.)

    Iv’e been a no trace left behind person since my dad & mom took us camping in the woods for 2 weeks at a time cause that was the kind of vacation our family could afford.

    The concept of leave no trace is not new to me but I wonder if it is new to many folks who want to experience BM, want a bike and possibly see a $125 loyal steed during the week as a nag ready for the glue factory by the time the Temple burns.

    The turnkey culture that has been creeping on the heart and soul of BM since I went to that first burn in 97 has only grown along with the city in my observation.

    When someone spends $2000-$5000 or more on a week long working-vacation-quest to find the truth of their Starbucks branded soul, I can’t imagine that they are sweating the $125 Walmart bike other than as a cost of doing business but with none of the “leave no trace” ethos to impart responsibility post enlightenment/hangover.

    What I have observed from experience then and now is that smart people will find solutions and manifest them on playa.

    My brain is working the problem and I think I have at least some grasp on at least some of the source of the problem.

    I have not observed any serious endeavor to address the growing turnkey cancer festering in the heart of Middle Earth.

    What I suspect is that when pushed, the people working the event out of love, duty, camaraderie or purpose in life will figure out a solution as they always do.

    I suspect the 2017 Bikeaggeddon will be worse in subsequent years if we who still find community both within the Borg and outside the Borg don’t figure out a solution.

    It seems like outreach to the community oriented people who attend BM may be instrumental in finding a solution that does not add more work to our hard working staff.

    One idea I had that I would hope the Borg could support is to do a pre-2018 message campaign.

    Maybe reach out to folks through JRS and additional outlets as well, re-emphasising the leave no trace ethos, why it’s so important and letting folks know about the bike problem of 2017.

    Frame the message so that participants with bikes get that they need to plan responsibly for how they will pack their bike out. Also that they will have to plan for what they will do with their trusty steed once off playa. Local burn orgs might be able to help with listings of where people can donate bikes when they return home.

    Have we reached a point where the city is so big that we need city burner busses to move people around?

    Those huge art cars have so many “family only” events now that you can never get on one unless you know some one.

    Can we lobby Nevada and the Fed gov for permission to repair and activate the train tracks on playa and start shipping stuff on & off playa via freight train? Maybe even a few Burner Trains with people loaded on board?

    If I come up with any more ideas, I will let folks know my ideas.

    Bringing the healing,
    Ashke

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  • Dan says:

    Good story.
    If the bikes are abandoned then their owners want to get rid of them and probably for a good reason. Many of them are not in a great condition. I saw them at Reno before the burn. Not worth fixing.
    If the bikes are lost/stolen, why being angry with the owner

    Either way, there is no point dealing with them. Why send problematic bikes to the Caribbean?Just scrape them. Especially if there is interest from scrape metal guys.
    If you don’t care that the owners will trash them, why not let the scrape metal guys take them?

    Free market, no?

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  • timnuts says:

    Why was BM STEALING bikes on saturday and sunday??? Wait for the event to end THEN steal my bike off the playa. Saw BM/DPW trucks/trailers picking up loads of bikes on saturday and sunday, too bad mine was one of them.

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  • Gerflash says:

    Granted that many overseas visitors have no intention of hauling their dusty bikes over to Europe or Asia, can anyone think of an efficient and rational way to prevent them being abandoned? Any idea of prevention? – e.g., distant or any burner could reserve and pay for a LOCKABLE GREEN BIKE. (Ok, make it purple or something.) They could return them and get back a deposit a day or so before they leave, and avoid the inclination to just dump them here and there. Try a pilot program of 1,000 the first year? 300? Whatever works. If it reduces the abandonment index, that’s gotta be worth something in saved clean up time and effort.

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    • Dusty MK says:

      Yes!
      Start official rent-a-bike service at Gerlach. Even provide delivery/pick up to the camp. Provide a lock… Make a good announcement – I guess lot of overseas and east-cost burners will be happy not to buy $100 bike and drop it later but rent it for fraction of price.

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      • Robert says:

        I saw a bike rental place on the way out (I think it was off the freeway in wadsworth) that advertised $50 bike rentals. That would be perfect for the east coast / overseas people.

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      • Rachel says:

        There are already bike donation bins right at the airport, and several bike drop offs within the city and the road out. While this could be better advertised, people are already given a place to drop off bikes, and many don’t.

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    • Ted says:

      There are already a number of bike rental camps: Playa Bike Repair and Hammer & Cyclery for example. I think many people that don’t plan to keep their bike just don’t bother searching for alternatives. Maybe some official acknowledgement of the existence of bike rental camps could go a long way.

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      • Holly says:

        Cannot say enough good things about Hammer cyclery. Rental price reasonable (considering the maintenance and transit issues associated hauling a bike a thousand miles) and they require a deposit. The deposit incentives care and diligent locking.

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    • Desert Silence says:

      I like this bike rental idea. That there are already bikes for rent is not widely known (or, I didn’t know it anyway) and renting would be a sensible alternative for someone whose home is in London or something. Or even New York or any place that requires flying to. Even for local people, a sensible, less-hassle idea.

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  • Rich Lather says:

    Meh. Deal with it. You wanted exponential growth with the nonsensical ticketing process over the past five years… this is what you get. Being the jaded crusty old burner that i am since ‘98 I love the yellow bike program and have used it to everyone’s advantage since it’s inception. My arrival on the playa every year since begins with finding a yellow bike, and upgrading as i trade it for other yellow bikes as I traverse the playa once before returning to camp, and decorating the shit out of it with lights, fur, and paint to the point where it is no longer recognizable as a yellow bike to even those seeking to clip locks shunning such behavior. I return the bike where I found it before leaving each year and tell all they should do the same…

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  • Eduardo Profundo says:

    The average distance travelled by a burner to the playa 10 years ago was maybe 300 miles, and now it’s probably closer to 1000. Many people flying into SF, LA or Reno from far away and they have no need for the bikes or any way to get them back to Miami or Berlin and so after the event so they abandon them, moving on to the next instagrammable festival. Hopefully someone rents a lot of these bikes back to these same folk next year.

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    • Rachel says:

      The issue with the current rental programs available is the price! You can rent in Reno for $150, or you can rent for pickup on playa for $150, and sometimes up to $300 if you don’t book early enough. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you can buy a brand new bike at Walmart for $80 and not need to return it. Absolutely not an excuse, but I see why it happens. If there were more affordable rental options, I believe this wouldn’t be such an issue.

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      • Holly says:

        My bike was stolen off our RV in the parking lot at our hotel before we even got there so I was just going to just not have a bike this year, but we saw these guys renting bikes for $50 on the way out.

        They were AWESOME, they helped service two of our bikes that were in bad shape for free and were super nice about everything.

        You can reserve your bike online, here’s their webstite.

        bmbikerentals.com

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  • Munchkyn says:

    I don’t know if this would work, but it occurs to me that the one set of people who could really use those abandoned bikes are the people who left them behind. Considering the hassle of getting a bike to the playa in the first place, would it not be a good idea to store those bikes, then offer them for rent next year? Paint them gold, make them Official Burner Bikes ™ or some such, and make them prestigious. Let people reserve them in advance, so they won’t have to bring their own bikes to the playa. When they arrive, their reserved bike is there, they get to decorate/personalize it, the organization makes money to pay for cleanup/restoration, and people don’t have to schlep bikes home to Europe or wherever. The bikes get recycled (heh) to next year.

    If this encourages more abandonment, then eventually the number of abandoned bikes will be so large that we can ban outside bikes altogether, and people can only use the bikes stored since last year. No new bikes will be brought in to swell the crowd of castoffs at the end of the Burn.

    Maybe this breaks de-commodification (although no more so than selling a ticket to Burning Man), or maybe it violate the self-reliance principle. But something’s got to give. We can’t expect the valiant and dedicated volunteers to do these massive cleanups every year.

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    • Pearl says:

      I love it. The BMORG is making plenty of money. This crying about having to do work after the event to deal with the foreseeable bike issue is ridiculous. My first year I didn’t bring a bike, relying on the yellow bike program. I ended up walking all week as there wasn’t an unlocked yellow bike to be found. They cry and cry yet only want 300 yellow bikes in one particular bike model when they now have thousands of bikes that can be used to supplement the yellow bike program.

      I’m over the organizers expecting the participants to do everything for them and crying when problems that were 100% foreseeable occur. Of course people flying in don’t want to deal with bikes. Duh. Figure out a good solution to the problem that you caused by making it hard for veterans to get tickets while showering them on hot kids from Europe.

      Also, I bet the stupid car passes have added to this. The BMORG wants people to carpool and have a hard time getting everything they need to and from the playa. What do you really think is going to happen? It just puts more burden on the organized veterans to provide for everyone else and deal with all the moop left behind.

      It’s time for the BMORG to start managing the scene that it has created. This is entirely foreseeable. Deal with it without crying. This frankly reminds me of all the articles crying about garbage left by the overflowing trash cans at Dolores Park on weekends. Instead of putting out enough bins and emptying them more often, Parks & Rec puts out press releases crying about the obvious results of their own bad decisions to cut costs by not providing enough cans. Attack me all you want about packing in and packing out, the reality is that the people using the park don’t do it and the city refuses to actually do what is easily within their power to fix it. Instead they complain about having to pay overtime to clean up the park. I’m sick of the city of SF whining instead of adapting and I feel the same way about the BMORG. Get the fuck over yourselves. This is the way that you want the event to be – DEAL WITH IT. The rest of us would frankly prefer the event to go back to the way it was, veterans taking care of their own needs and leaving no trace. But you’ve shit on us year after year and this is what you got as a result. Good fucking job.

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      • Desert Silence says:

        OK, picking up on this, could BMorg actually go to the length of hiring a bunch of dumpsters, parking them in some suitable location just before the end of the week, and hauling out junk after everyone leaves? They could charge a modest fee for accepting garbage (just like your local dump does, or mine does anyway). The way I read the financials the money is there. People who didn’t want to take advantage of it, preferring to haul their own junk out, could still do that. This would be accompanied by HEAVY pressure to take advantage of it, rather than leaving your bike on the playa.

        It sort of feels like not doing this is taking advantage of the volunteers who end up cleaning up big MOOP like bicycles. To save the money which could be used to hire dumpsters, we’ll put the load on unpaid volunteers. This feels unfair.

        Would they crack loose and do it if the volunteers declined to clean up after them?

        Resto would still have plenty to do, picking up wood scraps, tiny pieces of string, pulling up tent stakes and similar MOOP. Bikes seem so obvious.

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    • Tara says:

      I agree. Considering several people fly in from overseas we should be able to come up with a more elegant solution to the bike problem. Maybe include it in your ticket and you can pick it up on the playa. Reduces the carbon footprint of that bike for sure. And ensures that people aren’t forced to buy a bike for a few days and then trash it. Burning Man can now play a part in the circular economy by adapting to the situation.

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  • Chicken Man says:

    The police using bikes blocking license plates as an excuse to search vehicles may have resulted in an overreaction by burners who heard about people having their entire vehicle searched because of a blocked license plate.

    I’ve heard stories from several people that that was the reason they abandoned their bikes, literally as a safety check against police violence, and hostile actions.

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    • Pearl says:

      Wow. Good point. The overly aggressive LEOs trying to raise revenue through drug busts instead of actually attempting to keep people on the Playa safe from crime have really put a damper on the event for me.

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    • Shazbat says:

      …so as with taking other preventative steps (all vehicle lights working, not speeding, mechanical and tires in good working order so no break downs), you accordingly ensure your license plate is not blocked – coming and going. How hard is that?

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  • Bill Morgan says:

    “I only left one bike behind…what’s the big deal ?” “and others in my camp did the same, only leaving one bike” Well, the big deal is that with 70,000 people each only leaving one bike that’s one hell of a mess.
    People in the camp next to us flew from Turkey to SF where they rented an RV and bought new bikes from WalMart. When they left there was about 8 or 10 new bikes left behind (along with a pile of trash. We took the bikes with us and are using them for parts. Thank you very much for your efforts and hard work cleaning up the playa so we can use it again. Bikeageddon ’17 was a terrible disaster and hope we can avoid another Bikeageddon next year.

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  • Rachel says:

    I think that LOCKING YOUR BIKE, even in your own camp needs to be advertised much more in the coming years. There are tons of people who had no intention to leave their bike behind, but someone stole it and it was dumped somewhere, and they have no way to retrieve it to bring it out. This has happened to plenty of people I’ve talked to. I’m willing to bet thefts were the reason for at least half of the abandoned bikes.

    Yeah, thefts shouldn’t happen at all, but they do, and it’s a much more difficult issue to address. Locking your bike is an easy way to prevent it from being taken.

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    • David says:

      Yes, I very much agree. I’ve left two bikes at BRC, both times because mine got “borrowed” (stolen). Which seriously f’d with my Burn, by the way. I learned my lesson, now I lock every time.

      I know the org says “lock your bike” repeatedly. But given the ramifications, I agree that I’d make advertising this front and center.

      11 Principles perhaps? Radical bike locking?

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      • gled says:

        Exactly what happened to me, went to camp to take a nap an evening, and when I got up around midnight to hit the playa, my bike had disappeared ( bike in the middle of a camp area, not even near city street ).

        The surprise was that there was another bike instead, exactly where mine was before. So I took out another bike that the one I brought in, and next burn I’ll lock my bike everywhere, even hidden in the camp.

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    • Shazbat says:

      C’mon! You need to be TOLD to lock your bike? I call bullshit. Too lazy to be bothered keeping track of a key or or not trusting yourself to remember a combination, and/ or or not wanting to deal with the minor hassle of locking it up each time you get on or off it.

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      • David says:

        Yes, you do. I went to the Burn 9 times, and never once locked my bike. Nor do I secure my camp, or lock my tent (if there was such a thing). It was the feeling of mutual respect, of sharing, of things not being for sale, that makes the place feel so special. Always surrounding by people who give, not take. I hate the idea of locking my bike. But at that 9th Burn my bike got taken. I started talking to people about bikes. Some super nice Danish guys said, “what, everyone just borrows each others’ bikes here, right?” So now I lock. It is easy to do. It takes just a second. But it makes me feel a little bit bad that I have to do it. But now I do it.

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  • Allen Grota says:

    While it is true that many are idiots, many are just misinformed. I know lots of people believe that Burning Man wants their bikes so they can turn them into Yellow Bikes.

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  • Dusty Nipples says:

    This may not be a popular concept, but how about if we reduce the need for bikes? If there were a ‘public transportation’ network of sorts so participants could navigate the city without a bike, many would use it. Then, bikes would only be needed really for ventures out to deep playa – that’s where the Yellow bikes come in… parked at stops along the esplanade for anyone who needs them. And Art Cars would help. Reducing the need for every participant to have a bike would benefit in multiple ways. I found the sheer numbers of people on bikes extremely dangerous at night – nobody follows any road rules. It’s mayhem and every time I had to ride near the esplanade or down a major spoke, it was scary. The city has grown large enough to warrant a Black Rock Transit system.

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    • Desert Silence says:

      Several people are suggesting the institution of a bus system and it sounds like a good idea to me. This is what cities do when they get too big to manage everyone having his/her own wagon/bike/car. Why not? We’re all supposed to be so Green and Responsible and use public transit back home, right?

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      • Perfius says:

        Great idea guys! Just the problem with funding and staffing. Are you volunteering?? Didn’t think so! How ’bout everyone STICKS TO THE PLAN, and takes LEAVE NO TRACE fuking seriously.

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      • Desert Silence says:

        I am NOT suggesting more volunteering! The org relies too much on (and occasionally abuses) volunteers too much as it is. I am suggesting that the Org dig into its pockets (which according to the Form 990 it can well afford to do) and pay for a bus service. Big usable buses can be readily rented; bus drivers could be easily recruited with an offer of guaranteed, free tickets. Recruit default-world bus drivers, of whom there are many thousands! Get properly licensed drivers, provide insurance. Cost would be manageable. This would eliminate thousands of bikes from the event, with many benefits.

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  • David says:

    Something practical: talk to Burner Express bus program. They make provisions for the pickup of a bike at SaveMart in Reno for fly-in burners. But there is no such provision for the dropoff of that same bike afterward! The Bus does not stop at SaveMart or any other location on the way back. It just goes to the airport. You think any of those bikes make it back on the bus?

    But a much bigger factor: Every time I hear about abandoned bikes and the blaming of careless owners dumping them, I think “Are f’ing you kidding me!?”

    I’ve left two bikes at BRC over the years. Because both were STOLEN and I had no chance to bring them back.

    I’ve encountered several people now who serially ride and dump. One a-hole like this can steal dozens of bikes over the course of the event, and all of these bikes end up left at the end.

    I know the answer is to lock your bike, so I now do that (hate the feeling it gives me BTW), but I’ve surveyed a few times now, and it appears that on average 30% of all bikes parked in public areas are unlocked, prime for “borrowing”.

    I’ve encountered several people pre-burn and during the burn, from overseas, who think serial bike “borrowing” is the accepted norm for the event, just part of the culture. Perfectly nice people, stealing bikes all week. No, they haven’t read the literature, and they won’t next year.

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  • TomFace says:

    I have been bringing the same bike to the playa the last few years and had it decorated and working great. On the night of the burn my GF and i found ourselves way at the edge of the playa and left to go back to camp at 6AM, only to find my bike had been taken. To add insult i had to ride GF bike back standing up with her sitting on the seat. I had a bike lock but didn’t use it because it is a hassle to lock it at every stop, and we move around a lot. In the future i plan to lock our bikes together at each stop.

    BTW i would have been glad to take another bike back to call my own if i had know there were so many abandoned…

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  • bcbob says:

    Just one thing to say . . ..

    TOO MANY PEOPLE!

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  • go_biscuits says:

    this is what happens when an ‘anarchist experiment’ in the desert grows to 70k people. burning man and the black rock desert has become a tragedy of the commons.

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  • Tbone says:

    Thank you for delineating the symptom – thousands of bikes left behind. Now, let’s discuss the disease: Plug ‘n Play Commodification Camps and the tourists they profit from. Uve and Gisele from Berlin who flew here straight from Ibiza, got picked up at the airport and driven to Walmart to buy bike-in-a-box-kits, then deposited at their Rented RV at White Privilege Ocean (or Robot Heart, or PlayaSkool, or any of the other dozens of Commodification Camps). Their Full Service week included costumes and catered meals, but there is no profit for White Ocean in removing their customer’s bikes (or, according to the MOOP Map, any MOOP whatsoever) year after year after year.

    BMORG supports these Commodification Compounds with placement, ticket access, and vendor services, because they want to money that access to MOOPing Celebrity and Wealth provides them. As long as the event continues to skew toward the EDM Zonbie crowd, Commodfication and Leave All The Traces will be the new reality.

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    • Christy says:

      If the bike patrol was getting paid to clean-up/organize donatation of bikes, sure, leave all the bikes behind you want to! But otherwise, it is abusive to the volunteers, period. Therefore it is irreponsible of BMorg to even ask volunteers to handle this abandoned bike issue next year now that they have seen how problematic and time-comsuming it is for people who are donating their time. So BMorg has an obligation to fix this probelm, such as: Have multiple bike collection points, OR Arrange for or hire an organization to come afterwards, contracted to take ALL bikes to fix/sell for scrap/donate how they see fit.

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  • Good Peeps says:

    Thank you Ballyhoo. Blows my mind that over 3700 burners could be so a) disrespectful, b) irresponsible, and/or c) stupid.

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    • David says:

      Your mind can be blown a little bit less, because the number is less than 3700. A small number of attendees serially “borrow and dump” bikes over and over again, thinking it’s the norm. Word got spread somehow amongst some people that this is how the burn works: “everyone just shares each others’ bikes”. Just one person can displace many bikes this way. But yes, I agree with A, B, & C. There are many reasons for bike dumping, from the Burner Express Bus, to Plug-n-play camps, and basically anyone who flies to the event (Reno or directly to BRC) vs. driving. You fly in, you ride a bike, it aint flying back with you!

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  • JJ says:

    Top two reasons for 2017 leftover bike spike:

    1. Myth of ‘need’ for additional bikes for Africa project: Word got around that it would not only be OK to leave a bike, but you’d be doing a good deed. Unfortunately, the details of how that would happen were not always passed along, so people figured the ‘Africa bike project’ would just scoop up the ‘much needed’ bikes wherever they could. Solution: don’t let charities advertise ‘need’ to the general BM public if that ‘need’ will actually be fulfilled with usual avenues of post-burn MOOPed bike recycling programs.

    2. Zealous post-burn bicycle cleanup: Almost every bike picked up from inner playa after a burn night will not be reconnected with its owner. Seriously, um, good job freeing the artwork and open playa of bike piles before the sun has a chance to warm it, but you may want to rethink your ambitious bike scooping policies. I have never seen the ENTIRE playa so clean of bikes post burns. I understand that people often park their bikes very close to art (probably thinking they’ll be easier to find later). How about creating little bike clusters near where the bikes were left, but not right against the art, so that a person can actually find their bike in the daylight when they eventually come to their senses. Instead of scooping up the bikes and taking them away entirely, leave them in a place nearby. Just imagine someone going back to a statue they remember leaving their bike against. It’s not there but they see a cluster of bikes nearby. They find their bike. Yay! One less bike ends as MOOP. Double yay!

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  • Check bikes for having a lock at the gate.
    Locks for sale at Centercamp
    NO donating bike programs on playa!
    Yellow bike donation only when registered before event
    Yellow bikes filled wheels and frame >> recognisable and unlockable

    Some containers to store some left bikes near Fly Ranch

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  • Starfired says:

    This was my 15th burn, and while I LOVED the notably smoother playa conditions for bike riding this year (like the good old days before dunes again), the busiest roads in BRC developed deep pillows of impressively fine dust by week’s end – so fine that it got into and clogged unsealed bearings at an unprecedented rate. Was I the only one to notice the larger number of loudly squealing bikes this year? I had to resort to daily cleanings myself, or my crank would start squealing horribly and completely seize up soon after.

    While bikes may have piled up faster at weeks’ end, I definitely noticed something else unusual this year – abandoned bikes scattered at random around open playa, starting EARLY in the week. They were noticeable all over the landscape by Thursday, and serious night hazards without lights. Some helpful burners even went so far as to start standing them upside down, wheels up – which at least made it easier to see them at night. By the end of the week I could also see people going from bike to bike, apparently stripping lights and parts from them. I even saw someone in the distance appear to abandon their horribly screeching bike in deep playa and walk away from it, days before the man burned. Yet in all the stories and discussions online about the abandoned bike situation this year, I’ve yet to see anyone else mention this. I can’t believe I was the only one to notice this phenomenon, as it was so clearly not “normal”.

    Overall, I got the sense that the thick fine dust on the streets was rendering an unusually large number of bikes (especially the cheap ones) useless for getting around Burning Man. I suspect that, faced with the prospect of carrying or walking a suddenly unrideable bike a long distance back to camp MANY people opted for laziness rather than do the right, but difficult, thing with their bike.

    This was also the first year in a decade when I did not personally hear of anyone who actually had their bike stolen at Burning Man (not counting temporarily misplaced incidents, or finding bikes relocated en masse near the burns, which even happened to me). For all the comments and implications that the increase in abandoned bikes must’ve been due to rampant thefts, do you have ANY evidence to back that up? I don’t mean anecdotal reports from a neighbor or campmate here and there, but a statistically significant increase in the number of stolen bike complaints reported this year? Or is that even recorded anywhere?

    It would also be interesting to know if the groups that collected these bicycles are finding a higher percentage of them needing new or overhauled bearings to be usable again.

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    • Jeff corsh says:

      The bikes don’t want to be lost. They want to be found and with their owners they came with …

      I’ve had a bike repair station at our camp for the last 6 years and it’s a blast and a responsibility

      I give out tires, tubes, lube over a drip cloth, small repairs , bring extra bikes and take home extra broken bikes from our camp

      How can I donate $$ to your cause to cover for our Moop creating , selfish burner mates ?

      Thanks for this update

      Scooter

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  • the REAL Burning Man says:

    Asking people nicely (even posting ALL CAPS) for people to PACK OUT YOUR BIKES does not seem to be working, the problem is getting worse.

    Of 70,000 tickets sold, 3700 bikes is around 5% of all ticket holders leaving behind bikes. Your strategy so far is failing. Doing more of it (more ALL CAPS POSTS) will probably only fail more.

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  • teh REAL burning man says:

    Quote: “What can we do differently next year?
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but what Black Rock City can do differently next year is PACK OUT ALL OF OUR BIKES! If you’d prefer to donate your bike to a good cause rather than bring it home, that’s your responsibility. Leaving it for other Burners to handle flies in the face of what Burning Man is all about. Nevertheless — as always — we handled it.”

    But this is exactly what you guys say every year, and the problem gets worse. So saying “PACK OUT ALL OF OUR BIKES!” in lots of caps in articles on this website preceded the problem doubling this year, what will happen next year if you do the same thing? Will providing the same input lead to different output?

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  • Bob C says:

    This is the unfortunate but to be expected consequence of popularizing the narrative of a week long party and encouraging the spread of drop-in destination camps over the inherent responsibility which comes with taking part in a community. This will only get worse the more that Burning Man is part of the jet-setter party schedule.

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  • Robert says:

    Maybe next year the org could stop telling people to leave their existing nice bikes at home and instead get the crappiest bike they can find for the playa. Nobody wants to bring crap back home.
    I’m using a full suspension bike for 9 years now, great fun to ride on and off the playa!

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  • Sparkles says:

    I ended up packing out three extra bikes this year were just left in front of my camp (I was the last to leave). When I asked around all that last day” why there were so many bikes left around” almost every person told me that bikes were donatable and to leave them in front so they were easy to identify and pick up. This felt like an irresponsible rumor. I asked the rangers who said that was false so I tried to go around and undo that rumor. I know every year we have fun little rumors that are spread and believed but I didnt realize how bad it ended up. I was camped on to 2-3 side so didnt venture towards the worst reported part of the playa. Thank you to everyone who helped during clean up. You are BMs own personal rock stars.

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  • BurnerBlair says:

    Were these bike piles noted on the MOOP Map? They are MOOP after all. Perhaps note them in a different color to raise awareness.. Bikes can be abandoned anywhere so the camp where the bike pile is found should not be held responsible, hence the different color of bike MOOP. A camp may be long gone and a pile may start up. But this MOOP should be on the map.

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  • Tom Stewart says:

    Several times each year people want to gift a bike to me. It is always someone who has traveled from far away. I explain to them that they should arrange a way to be responsible for the bike and that gifting it doesn’t work very well.

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  • Lady Aetheria says:

    Is there a way that when people come through gate we could have them register their bike along with their name. So if bikes do get left people can be contacted or some sort of fee to dispose of the MOOP they left.

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  • Sukkafishhhhhhh says:

    Create a mandatory Burning Man principles quiz that has to be 100% correctly answered to buy a ticket (In all languages they possibly could)?

    BOOM. Every time you get it wrong, you have to wait 10 minutes to try again.
    :D

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  • Zorb says:

    It’s simple. Once DPW collects 70,000 bikes ban everyone from bringing a bike & force everyone to use community bikes.
    Or, issue stickers with the tickets and make everyone put these stickers on their seat posts. If an owner is identified by their abandoned bike then charge them for the removal/overhaul & then the bike becomes a new community bike next year. If your bike gets stolen then you didn’t try hard enough to prevent it.

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  • Peter Conroy says:

    Too many new people that have BM on their bucket list and do not give a shit. 1017 was my 13 burn and I have seen changes for the worse like the potties being totally gross, moop all over, rudeness.
    Don’t know what the answer is but to get a ticket haw about an online quiz first attesting to the participants knowledge of basics.

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  • Dr. Gin says:

    How about instead of giving out random stickers at the beginning of the burn with the WWW guide, the ORG makes a sticker/tag that people can use to mark their bikes with their camp name and address? People often forget to do it once they get in, or don’t have the materials, but the Greeters could get incoming bikes marked with some identifying information. Not perfect, but helpful, and I’d rather have a useful thing like that instead of another sticker with the man logo on it.

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  • U_chill says:

    Gah. So much text and metal wasted due to ‘greed’ manifesting on the playa. Such a simple solution if the org makes up its mind.

    – STOP telling newcomers they need a bike. Provide a $50 option to pick up and drop off a bike to everyone who buys a ticket ON the registration page.
    – You can opt out ONLY if you agree to getting your bikes tagged and removed off the playa on your own.

    BMO gets an estimate of bikes needed on playa based on ticket sales. Get that organized via $80 Walmart bikes or just outsource the whole thing to a startup like LimeBike. They will gladly do it for the publicity.

    End of story. Move on, but no….

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  • Kerry says:

    We brought a bike rack this year for our camp. At the week’s end, during teardown of the bike rack, we discoverd that a broken bike had been left, which was owned by nobody in camp. Somebody suggested leaving it, but that became a teaching moment, and instead we loaded it on top of my trailer. It’s stored away until next year’s camp preparations.

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  • Kerry says:

    BTW, thanks to those who provide the Community Yellow Bikes. *My* bike broke down far from camp around sunset, and as I was trying to push it back to camp before dark, I came across a Yellow Bike. With one hand on each handlebar, I was able to ride the Yellow Bike and push the broken bike, and I arrived home before dark and in time for dinner! Since we had brought a spare bike, I started using that one and walked the Yellow Bike to a major intersection for someone else.

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  • Rainbucket says:

    True story: somewhere on playa this year, either in a porta potty or on a street signpost, I read a poster that listed alternatives to taking your bike home. Bikes For Africa was one option, as were other camps, with the implication that if you just left your bike at the end of the week someone would take care of it. Seemed like something that wouldn’t end well.

    Did anyone else see these posters? It was so at odds with the usual wisdom I re-read every bit of the official site and gate literature to make sure things hadn’t changed.

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    • Nik says:

      Interesting. This might be the reason so many bikes were left. Burgins plus a rumor like that would be enough to account for a 100% increase.

      Too many ppl buy “disposable” wal mart bikes.

      As a long Time walker i have an alternative idea: Ban bikes. It’s fun to walk and much more condusive to the “get lost at burning man experience” which is the most fun anyway.

      Then again maybe if everyone did it it would be less fun … everyone biking should know that on your way to that thing you want to see, you are basically guaranteed to bypass about 100 things that are better than that …

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  • Christy says:

    …..AND as far as for the “commodification” camps: If these types of “guests” are allowed to come and “play” and not “participate”, then their camp can pay their own MOOP crew to clean up after them. And the camp can keep paying their own MOOP crew to de-moop until BMorg declares their area as MOOP-free. Because Volunteers shouldn’t have to play nanny to a bunch of spoiled, selfish brats. And because BMorg shouldn’t reward poor adherence to principles by letting these camps get away with it, breaking the backs of the Volunteers in the process!

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  • Karim Annabi says:

    I took removed my bike during my burn.

    How about at the entry gate, not putting a sticker on every bike, but checking how many bikes arrive with each vehicle and putting a sticker on the vehicle windshield, and having a team at the exit fate check that the number of bikes each vehicle is taking out is the same as the number they brought in. And those unfortunate to have their bikes stoken or lost, can claim a broken one from a bike scrap yard to remove. This solution wouldn’t delay the queue much.

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  • D’ennui says:

    This was my second burn and my husband’s third. We had both of our bikes stolen as the Man burned. Last year, I saw no bike locks, heard of no thefts among my people, and assumed the Community would respect one another’s property again this year. This year, several of our friends also had their bikes taken. I’m so very sorry we weren’t able to find our two bikes to take them off Playa. Not sure whether a cultural shift has occurred but I will for sure bring locks in the future. Thanks for all your hard work!

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  • Rick says:

    Ban personal bikes from coming in. Use the abandoned bikes for rentals. All money from rental fees goes to repairing and dealing with all associated costs. Easiest way to deal with the problem. Controls the problem of lost or stolen bikes. Cant make everyone happy all the time.

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    • Mike Bilbo says:

      Yours is one of the best ideas of all. I’ve always brought my bike but I wouldn’t mind not bringing it and instead renting one – one less packing item to worry about. And as you said, it also solves the borrowed/stolen bike issues.

      Meanwhile, walking is a nice viable alternative to bikes. I actually do more walking than biking in BRC. Long-range BRC walk-abouts are actually kinda fun.

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  • Francis Grunow says:

    My bike was one of the “unintentionally left behind.” Apologies DPW for your trouble! Nonetheless, I was quite bummed to have my bike of nearly 20 years stolen from Center Camp on my third day. Yes, it was stupid of me for not locking it. I had been lulled into a false sense of security and trust after several days of believing that burners would not take something that wasn’t theirs. I hope my grey Trek, bought as a commuter for Brooklyn to Queens in the late 1990s, then to Detroit for thousands of miles, stolen a couple of times, multiple wheels, countless tires, many grips, several seats, one or two chains later, finds a good home somewhere. I love you. Sorry to be part of Bikeaggedon 2017.

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    • Rebecah says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. We get attached to that which have been through so many things in our lives with us. I wish that respect for personal belongings was instilled in all people…not everyone teaches that to their children

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  • Bonkers says:

    How is anyone surprised about this?

    Popularity leads to Growth
    Growth results in Crime
    Crime dictates Rules
    Rules enforced by LEO’s
    OMG!! What happened?
    Well…….BM has become a microcosm of the world outside BRC.

    Utopia is lost, or soon to be, when a Socialistic dreamt, Capitalistic driven, Liberally run 7 day event can’t escape unscathed and worsens each year.

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  • Julie says:

    I have never attended Burning Man. The idea of a community where people acted responsibly toward themselves and their environment is a beautiful thing. It saddens me to realize that it can not be obtained even for 1 week. Reading these posts leaves me with the stark belief that when humans gather together in large numbers they are in capable of seeing past themselves. What I see is that Burning Man is no longer a shining example of what should be. It has grown to become the poster child of what always occurs. Many of you offered valid, viable solutions. Many of you discussed what seem to be likely causes. A few (those who seemed most discouraged) saw the basic flaw. Which is not all humans are responsible and those in charge are unable or unwilling to remove the irresponsible people from the event. So the question becomes how big can the burning man festival get before it destroys itself. Hate to see such a beautiful noble idea destroyed, but it seems that is that humans do.

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    • Rebecah says:

      It won’t get any bigger but it is drawing different people due to it being more visible. It is harder and harder for the long time attendees to get tickets. They could be there to teach the Virgins about the concepts but there are less of them to go around and a breakdown is inevitable without proper understanding.

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  • Flyer says:

    For six years now, I have been part a a very large theme camp and there are always 40+ bikes left behind at our camp that are never any of our campers. We don’t have storage or trash for such Super Sized MOOP. We took some of them, gave some away but don’t have room in our dumpster for them. For years, we knew they went to a good cause and have been told to place the bikes at the Porta Potties. It’s just this year it was a crazy amount.

    A permit sticker is just another tax.

    I think we should invite more organizations to come out to get the bikes.

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  • John M says:

    So bizarre and uncreative. Just ask people if they want to rent a bike and make them pay 50 USD extra or whatever, and use the money to store and vaguely maintain the bikes. 50 x 4000 = … a shit ton of money, and this is /less/ than bikes rent or buy for.

    The whole setup is ridiculous on its face – the whole event effectively /requires/ bikes to be brought and used, and does nothing to facilitate their movement or deployment.

    You all whinge about the moop caused by bikes, and don’t observe that people bringing trailers and RVs likely have a far greater resource footpring in toto that someone leaving a bike on playa but travelling by bus.

    Burning Man is principled, to the max, and this is world-important; no-one said it was super-smart about all its decisions, and not taking on mass bike rental is dumb, operationally, environmentally and financially.

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    • BCup says:

      In 2017 Walmart in Reno had a huge fleet of Huffy Cranbrooks, in all sizes, for $79 each: they’d set up a special outdoor garden center just to stage them: scores, maybe hundreds. The only upside is that this is the model that Yellow Bikes works with.

      Kiwanis (who are truly delightful volunteers doing truly wonderful work) sells Burner-ready bikes for $50, many of them already somewhat decorated for playa. You can reserve one in advance, and you can also store your personal (presumably not junk) bike for $60 for the year, and pick it up next year, tuned up and tires pumped. They’re great.
      http://www.kiwanisbikes.org/burning-man.html

      So whatever solutions are proposed, they can’t be a net cost of more than $79+tax, or even really $50, unless there is the added benefit of playa delivery (something I’d gladly pay for.) I personally paid $50 to have my bike get shipped, and returned, on a container. Options are there.

      Adding a bicycle stickering and deposit program is feasible, and kinda attractive to me, but yes: it would add some hours. Maybe many, many hours, to Gate and Exodus, which is when some of us have our least graceful, least patient mindsets going on.

      Rail freight is perhaps the most complex and unlikely solution to the problem. Trains are expensive, ya know?

      Here’s some low-hanging fruit that has multiple possible beneficial outcomes: to start, only do the bicycle deposit and sticker program for plug & play camps. I think we can reasonably guess that the PnP glampers are a part of the abandoned bike problem.

      All those bikes would go in and out as commercial/vendor traffic, so it wouldn’t impact the normal Gate or Exodus traffic.

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  • Mike Bilbo says:

    I couldn’t do it this year as I didn’t have enough room, but when I can, any abandoned bikes at my camp I’ll take what I can and when I get home, I clean them up and donate them to Goodwill.

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  • wILD bILL .:)"(:. says:

    Well, great job by all that got the bikes off the playa and saved them from the scrap yards. Now who took my brand new ( red and black) 4000 watt portable Predator generator from 8:45 and K? ( across from Red Moon camp). It was between the flat bed trailer of their art car and a yellow rental truck. It was my responsibility for sure, but I would like to get it back! ( even if it means I meet up with the folks next year to recover it!). I think it may have been assumed to be a part of the camp,( it was on loan from me for a trailer with AC) and was loaded into the yellow rental truck. I have already checked with Lost and Found. It’s my bad, but I would like to get it back. Thank you. You can send me a note on fb at Last Bar Standing.(LBS) wILD bILL Keep in mind we have “free beverages” all week long! ( Ha! Ha! don’t we all!) Also, thank you for the picture and mention (of LBS) on the BMorg site as well!

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  • Bestia says:

    The only solution I would say is:
    BM org be very explicit about where they will accept bike donations, stated in the guidebook and center camp and known by the rangers, and have specific hours for drop off and specific signs/instructions that say that you may NOT leave a bike as a donation unless there is someone official there taking it from you. That way if they get to capacity, they can turn people away. I really want to believe that if burners knew that the donation capacity had been reached, that they wouldn’t just ditch the bikes.

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  • Fernando says:

    Banish Burning Man! Bike problem as well as many others solved!

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