This section covers everything you need to know about operating vehicles at Burning Man.
Black Rock City is designed for pedestrians and bicycles. Movement of powered vehicles during Burning Man is limited. Here are the rules for the movement of powered vehicles, and the types of vehicles allowed, in Black Rock City.
Driving Rules In Black Rock City
Anyone driving at Burning Man must adhere to all BRC driving rules. These include:
- Only drive vehicles licensed or allowed to drive in Black Rock City
- Abide by all applicable federal and Nevada state laws, including all open container laws (no open containers within reach of the driver)
- Drive at a speed of 5 mph or less (less in hazardous situations such as tight crowds)
- Give the right of way to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency services vehicles
- Follow the reasonable and applicable vehicle laws for road safety
- Stop immediately upon being hailed by any BRC Staff member, Black Rock Ranger, or law enforcement officer
- No driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- No driving on pedestrian-designated streets (see your map for details)
- No driving during whiteouts or rainy conditions
- No driving on wet or freshly-watered roads
- Any additional guidelines set forth by Burning Man
- Obey sound policies
In addition to adhering to the driving rules indicated above, Mutant Vehicles must:
- Create a clear field of vision for the operator
- Have a safe access area and procedures for loading and unloading passengers
- Clearly display the Mutant Vehicle license in a location specified by the DMV
- Have ground guides (walkers) if the vehicle is large, has a limited field of vision or can be dangerous to pedestrians.
For vehicles that are large or in instances where the driver does not have a clear view of the front and back of the vehicle, walkers/spotters must be used at all times when the vehicle is in motion. The number of walkers required will vary based on the size and type of vehicle, but must be a sufficient number of people to ensure safe navigation.The walkers must have some type of markings or attire that will identify them as walkers for that particular vehicle.
Examples of markings/attire include:
- Reflective safety vests
- Brightly colored or reflective hats
- Brightly colored or reflective bandannas
- Brightly colored or reflective shirts
NOTE: A video surveillance system cannot be substituted for walkers. At night Walkers must have flashlights for visibility and to be able to direct vehicles.
Mutant Vehicles with trailers may have blind spots between the vehicle and the trailer, so must include a barrier against boarding in this zone:
This barrier must have a minimum height of no more than 12 inches from the playa surface and a maximum height that is either equal to the maximum height of the Mutant Vehicle (this is intended to accommodate very low vehicles) OR no less than 36 inches above the playa surface. The barrier must be in place before the vehicle moves and must remain in place at all times when the vehicle is in motion.
Examples of valid trailer barriers:
NOTE: Regardless of how they are constructed, trailer barriers must be strong and secure enough to block passage of people trying to walk through the hitch area. Trailers with barriers that are deemed insufficient to block passage will not be licensed by the DMV.
Mutant Vehicles and the Community
The DMV receives a lot of feedback every year from Black Rock Citizens about Mutant Vehicles. One of the biggest ongoing concerns is that Mutant Vehicles are often perceived as being ‘exclusive’. We’ve heard a number of stories about someone walking in deep playa, seeing a Mutant Vehicle and asking for a ride, only to be told “sorry, this is a private party,” or something to that effect.
Part of the agreement Mutant Vehicle owners sign is the understanding that a registered Mutant Vehicle is considered to be a public conveyance. When you are licensed to drive in Black Rock City, you agree that you will share that privilege with others and give rides to those that need or ask. This is also a great way to meet people and a wonderful show of our community. Proper etiquette should be followed; all participants should be allowed to ride Mutant Vehicles as long as there are not an unsafe number of passengers aboard at any given time.
Private Parties / Thank You Cruises
We recognize that many Mutant Vehicles are large, ongoing endeavors that require a lot of time and resources to bring to the playa each year. We know that many Burning Man Theme Camp and Mutant Vehicle projects use crowdfunding campaigns (like Kickstarter and Indiegogo) to help fund their projects. One of the main concerns regarding crowdfunding rewards has been the perception that someone was ‘selling rides’. One of the most common rewards is a ‘private cruise’ for donors, which can easily be misinterpreted. It really depends on how it is presented in the campaign.
We totally support crowdfunding as well as the “Thank You Cruise” as a reward. We also support MV Owners cruising with just their friends and camp-mates – with the caveat that they should only do so for ONE DAY/NIGHT during the event and be very clear that is what is happening when talking with other participants. (“We’re just out with members of our camp tonight, but if you stop by at sunset tomorrow, we’ll be happy to take you for a spin. Here’s our address!”).
Due to an increase in vehicles, population, and dust, it is imperative that all participants adhere to these rules and guidelines. If you cannot follow these rules, your vehicle may be impounded, and you may be subject to a fine by law enforcement, or ejection from the event.
A powered or motorized vehicle is defined as a conveyance powered by ANY type of motor/drive system, including (but not limited to) wheeled, tracked, or hovering systems, powered by electric, gas or other fuel, i.e. anything that is not solely human powered. All motorized vehicles must remain parked and stationary for the duration of the Burning Man event, with the following exceptions:
Licensed Mutant Vehicles
The only Mutant Vehicles allowed to enter Black Rock City are those that have received an email from the DMV inviting the vehicle to go through final inspection on the playa for a Mutant Vehicle license. For more on these see the DMV page.
If you have a physical disability, you should be able to receive a disabled license from the DMV. Pre-registration is preferred whenever possible. Please go here to find out more about vehicles and transportation for those with disabilities. NOTE: Mobility Scooters and Electric Wheelchairs are allowed without licensing for persons with disabilities.
Staff, Emergency, and Law Enforcement Agency Vehicles
These vehicles are crucial to the safety and operation of our event.
In terms of powered bicycles, we follow Nevada state law on what is classified as an electric bicycle (and hence entitled to be treated as a standard bicycle in terms of state traffic regulations). The Black Rock Department of Mutant Vehicles does not require registration or licensing for anything fitting these criteria.
Electric bicycles as defined by Nevada state law may operate during the event without any sort of license. That definition is as follows:
- “Electric bicycle” means a device upon which a person may ride, having two or three wheels, or every such device generally recognized as a bicycle that has fully operable pedals and is propelled by a small electric engine which produces not more than 1 gross brake horsepower and which produces not more than 750 watts final output, and:
- Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and
- Powered solely by such a small electric engine, is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying an operator who weighs 170 pounds.
- The term does not include a moped.
Small, electric stand-up scooters (like the one pictured above) are allowed to operate at Burning Man without a license. Scooters MUST meet all of the following criteria:
- The scooter must be a single-person, two wheeled. unmodified stand-up scooter with no seat.
- The scooter’s motor must have a maximum stated power of less than 750 Watts
- The scooter must have a maximum stated speed of 20 MPH on level ground.
(NOTE: Regardless of scooter capability the speed limit for ALL vehicles within Black Rock City is 5 MPH).
- The scooter weight must not exceed 45 LBS.
- The scooter must have front and rear lights if used at night (after sundown).
- While gas versions (maximum engine size under 30cc) of the above type scooters are allowed at Black Rock City, we encourage you to use an electric model, or at least one with a muffler, or other style that does not create that loud “buzzzzzz”, which many feel detracts from the event.
Scooters that do not meet the above criteria will not be allowed into Black Rock City. If you are found driving a disallowed scooter you will be required to take it out of BRC.
NOTE: Motorcycle / moped type scooters are not allowed in BRC.
Segways and similar style stand-up two-wheeled, gyroscopically stabilized, battery-powered personal transportation devices do not require registration or licensing.
Certain types of wind-powered vehicles are allowed within Black Rock City limits. Registration and licensing of these vehicles is not required; however, these vehicles are subject to all of the BRC driving rules listed above. Drivers are encouraged to decorate their crafts.
Wind-powered vehicles allowed in Black Rock City must have the following characteristics:
- An effective mechanical braking system
- A pivoting mast
- Weight of no more than 50 pounds; an additional 30-50 pounds should be allowed for small trailers (in general, the vehicle should be easily hoisted above the head of the operator)
- Operational only while operator is standing
Wind-Powered Vehicles NOT Allowed in Black Rock City
These vehicles may be brought to the Black Rock Airport and may be stored and operated there. These vehicles include:Vehicles with a fixed mast
- Vehicles in which the operator is sitting or reclining
- Three-wheeled “land yachts”
- Kite sailing vehicles (powered by a high-flying kite rather than attached to a mast)
Street Vehicles driven to Black Rock City and on their way to camp
When you arrive in Black Rock City, you must drive directly to your camp and park there until you leave.
Any powered vehicle (other than the vehicle you drive to the event in) that is not listed above, may not be brought into Black Rock City. If you attempt to bring it to Burning Man you will be required to leave it at the Gate in an unsupervised lot, or bring it back home before you enter the event. Be aware that operating these vehicles at Burning Man can result in your vehicle being impounded, and your being fined by law enforcement and/or ejected from the event.
Towed or Trailered Vehicles
Towed, trailered or mounted secondary vehicles without invite letter such as Motorcycles or ATVs or other off-road vehicles are not allowed. For example: sometime people travel with motorcycles or small ATVs in or on their RVs for local transportation. The Gate will not allow these vehicles into the event.
Mutant Vehicles not preregistered and with an invitation letter
The only unlicensed Mutant Vehicles driving on the playa should be the ones en route to the DMV for inspection. It is possible that a Mutant Vehicle that has been invited to Black Rock City will not actually qualify for a license upon DMV inspection. In this instance, the Mutant Vehicle must remain parked at your camp for the duration of the event.
As with any Burning Man policy, changes may occur. Any changes to BRC vehicle protocols will be communicated via appropriate methods, including the Jack Rabbit Speaks Newsletter, burningman.org, and the DMV announce list before the event, or BMIR, Playa Info, and posted notices at the DMV during the event.