This project began as way to recycle lost and abandoned bikes from the event. The goal was to provide free community transportation, reduce bike theft, reduce loss and abandoning of bikes, and provide a use for resources that would otherwise become a disposal expense. Now with our large fleet, abandoned bikes are mostly donated to charities.

In 2009, we had a larger focus on bike repair. We knew from last year what problems we had, and a good count of parts required. This allowed pre-event building to happen rather smoothly. Repair Camp expanded into Center Camp in 2009, and merged with Bike Rock City. This worked very well for both projects. Yellow Bikes were maintained better, with participants and staff bringing broken ones in for repair. An estimated 300+ repairs on Yellow Bikes were done during the event, thus keeping these bikes available for use, and keeping down the amount of parts scavenged from broken Yellow Bikes. This all helps keep material costs down.

Bike Rock City also worked well. Approximately 1,200 participants’ bikes were repaired during the event. Not only is this a valuable service for them, it also takes some burden off of Yellow Bikes, and reduces the number of bikes left on site. It also allows face-to-face interaction with participants, during which we can spread bike policy info, and people get to see the efforts we put into Yellow Bikes and lost and found efforts.

Two factors played key roles in our success this year. First, our placement near Center Camp made the shop easy to find and near other related services such as Black Rock City Hardware. It also made it easy for us to reposess Yellow Bikes locked up at Center Camp, the most likely place for Yellow Bikes to be locked up. Second, we had some great volunteers this year and this can surely be attributed to two factors: early recruitment of skilled volunteers with their own tools and previous bicycle mechanic experience, and a consistent supply of positive reinforcement from participants.

The statistics for this year’s bikes are:

  • 800+ Yellow Bikes released into Black Rock City
  • 760+ Yellow Bikes collected post event (5% loss, similar to 2008, 10% in 2007)
  • 900+ Lost bikes collected (down from 1100 in 2008, 1600 in 2007)
  • 600+ bikes already donated to charities
  • Lost bike reports on site and via e-mail total around 150. (around the same as 2008, 400+ in 2007)

The numbers seem to show continued effectiveness of all bike related issues we are trying to address.

Overall, it was yet another great year for bikes on the playa!!

Submitted by,
Travis Miller