The Yellow Bikes of Black Rock City

By Durgy
Since 2007, there has been a “Yellow Bike” share program in Black Rock City. These are bikes for all to use, and for none to own. If you follow the rules of the Yellow Bikes there will be plenty to go around, and the program will be a success.

The Yellow Bike you may ride (painted in a special, easily identifiable, and very expensive green aircraft paint NOT AVAILABLE AT WALMART with red stenciled letters “Yellow Bike”) is used for your one way transportation. It is not your bike. If you put a lock on it, the lock will be cut off. Do not alter the bike by painting over the words “Yellow Bike”, adding after market items (like colorful tape over the words “Yellow Bike”) or removing the instruction tag. If you find a Yellow Bike locked, contact a Ranger to arrange to have the lock cut off. For the sake of the other participants, please wear pants wh±en riding a Yellow Bike.

Having come from the Middle East to the playa in 2008 I was not able to bring a bike, and was excited to participate in the Yellow Bike program. One day I found myself at Center Camp and went looking through the bike rack for my ride home. There I saw a Yellow Bike that had the tag removed, and also colorful tape place strategically over its identifying stencil. I flipped the bike over on its handlebars and began to remove the tape. Part way through I heard someone from a little ways off say “hey dude that’s my bike”. I did not look up or engage him, but continued in my task. Someone who was with him, gave him the sage advice “let it go”. When finished bagging up the tape (MOOP!), I took a leisurely cruise home.

Another time on the Esplanade, I stopped in for a two minute visit to verify a fact for a news story. As I was walking back out of the camp, I saw someone picking up the Yellow Bike I rode in on. ØI was miffed feeling that I was on an important mission, and that I needed THAT bike. But I held my tongue and started walking. In less than a block I found a Yellow Bike, hopped on and continued on my way.

Two of the event principles encompassed in the Yellow Bike Program are “Participation” and “Communal Effort”. We are all challenged to uphold a radical participatory ethic, and our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. By using and not taking ownership of a particular Yellow Bike, one upholds that spirit of cooperation and promotes that creative, collaborative and radical participation that makes Black Rock City a better place.

The Survival Guide warns ominously that “there are always a few people who just don’t ‘get it’.” It is your charge as a citizen and particpant to help instruct such folks (not just for Yellow Bikes, but for leave no trace, no spectating, unauthorized capture of images, ill-advised bØurning of things, etc.). “If you see someone acting irresponsibly, introduce yourself and speak up.” This would include helping people out who are misusing the Yellow Bike program by educating them.

Last year there were reports from Exodus of people leaving, or attempting to leave Black Rock City, with a Yellow Bike(s). Please be aware that this would be considered “theft” for which one could face a fine or jail. Whether the BMOrg will prosecute people stealing Yellow Bikes is not certain. Law enforcement is also aware of the Yellow Bike program, and it would not be a requirement for prosecution under theft laws of the State of Nevada for the BMOrg to press charges. What is certain is that it would be incredibly selfish and unneighborly to seek to take personal advantage of this gift to the community.

As long as eveyone cooperates, there will always be a Yellow Bike available when you want to ride one. Let go, trust and enjoy.

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