It goes without saying that electric bicycles have reshaped the landscape of personal mobility in many parts around the world. That being said, as with most things in life, there’s a time and place for everything. Those of you familiar with the Burning Man may have noticed a sudden influx of e-bikes at the event.
While it has always been considered a bike-friendly occasion, Burning Man organizers have been receiving a lot of complaints about electric bikes during recent years, particularly because of the speed at which these bikes are being ridden. Indeed, electric bicycles are a lot faster than a standard bicycle, which, when put into the context of an event like Burning Man, can already be pretty fast on their own. Nevertheless, e-bikes make for an incredibly easy way to get around the event’s Black Rock City.
At this point, it's worth noting that Burning Man organizers have set some pretty strict rules and regulations surrounding safety. There’s supposedly a strict five-mile-per-hour speed limit for all vehicles on wheels, and cars are explicitly banned from the venue. Nevertheless, the generally laid-back atmosphere of the event, especially when its fueled by copious amounts of alcohol, can very easily lead to people getting carried away on their bicycles – and even more so on electric bicycles.
An article by Electrek goes into considerable detail regarding what e-bikes are allowed in the Burning Man. At present, only Class 1 electric bicycles are permitted entry into the event. These bikes have a top speed limited to 20 miles per hour with pedal assist. On top of that, these bikes don’t have a throttle, further limiting the bike’s speed capabilities. Of course, faster Class 2 and 3 e-bikes are supposedly not allowed, however, given the scale of the event, it can be difficult to regulate these vehicles, and a quick search on the internet will reveal lots of these e-bikes present in the event.
This begs the question: Will Burning Man ban electric bicycles altogether? Well, as of this writing, this doesn’t seem to be the case. A statement in the Burning Man Journal states that organizers have been receiving a lot of requests to outright ban e-bikes from the event. However, organizers seem to be exercising maximum tolerance for e-bikes in order to maintain the laid-back and enjoyable nature of the event.
The statement says, “Despite many members of the community urging us to do so, we don’t want to ban e-bikes in Black Rock City — not just because outright bans feel draconian (not to mention the logistics of enforcement), but because we deeply believe in leaning on community values and expectations to improve everyone’s experience.” Furthermore, Burning Man officials are encouraging all participants to work together to make the event safer and more enjoyable for all.