JRS VOLUME #13; ISSUE #35
Burning Man Update: The Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 13, Issue #35: TRANSPORTATION EDITION
August 25, 2009
+ BURNING MAN RIDESHARE BOARD
+ DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO BLACK ROCK CITY
+ I-80 AND BAY BRIDGE ROAD CLOSURES, DETOURS, DELAYS, ETC.
+ HANDSFREE LAW IN CALIFORNIA
+ DRIVING THE SPEED LIMIT IS THE NEW RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION
+ SOME HELPFUL ADVICE FROM THE NEVADA HIGHWAY PATROL
+ HOW TO BEHAVE IF YOU GET PULLED OVER BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
+ DRIVING ROUTE 447? ENJOY "AMERICA'S SOLAR HIGHWAY", COURTESY OF BLACK ROCK SOLAR
+ BLACK ROCK CITY AIRPORT
+ FLYING INTO RENO
+ RIDESHARE OPTIONS IN THE RENO AREA
+ SHUTTLE BUSES SERVICES FROM SF TO BRC AND BACK
+ OOOH OOOH OOOH! I WANT TO DRIVE ON THE PLAYA!
+ A HUMBLE REQUEST FROM DRIVERS OF LEGITIMATELY NON-MUTATED VEHICLES
+ HAPPINESS IS A SPARE CAR KEY
+ GO-PED STYLE VEHICLES AND BLACK ROCK CITY
+ WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND BLACK ROCK CITY?
+ THE BRC <--> GERLACH / EMPIRE SHUTTLE BUS
CONNECT WITH BURNING MAN:
+ Burning Man on your favorite social networks
Well, boy howdy! We're writing you today from the center of Black Rock City ... or at least what will BECOME Black Rock City once YOU arrive and start making wonderful things happen, as you do.
The Man is built, waxed, and is now getting its neon attached AS WE WRITE. In a couple days, The Man will stand tall atop a tangled bank, which looks gorgeous by the way. The Temple is coming along *beautifully*, the Rocketship has arrived, so has Fishbug, and amongst the gathering hubub, the DPW is cranking away at the city infrastructure, (knock wood) ahead of schedule.
In case you haven't seen it yet, John Curley continues his wonderful chronicles of building BRC in the Burning Blog. Check it out:
OK, so the only thing missing here is YOU, and this edition is dedicated to just that: getting you to BRC, around and about once you're here, and out the back end. As it were. Ahem. OK, so read on, this is important stuff, people!
The Gate opens in 5 days, and the Man burns in 11. Holy crap, 11 days, people!!
BURNING MAN RIDESHARE BOARD
Save yourself some money, and save your planet some carbon emissions by ridesharing. Here, you can use our rideshare board ... g'head, we don't mind:
Oh, and some quick reminders when car sharing:
1. Pitching in gas money is cool. Way cool.
2. Tickets are not being sold at the gate this year. Yes, really. Make sure everybody in the car has their ticket, or none will be allowed in the gate. Yes, really.
3. When you post to the board, be honest about who you are, what you're bringing, how much (and whether) you can share driving responsibilities, your temperment, expectations, and any special needs. When it comes to ridesharing, surprises suck.
4. Make sure you're comfortable with the person with whom you're driving.
5. Have fun ... make a friend.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO BLACK ROCK CITY
Here are driving directions to Black Rock City, coming from all points of the compass:
Men, quietly memorize them, then impress your passengers with your unCANNy ability to divine your way to Black Rock City WITHOUT CONSULTING A MAP. You'll be throwing all kinds of stereotypes for a loop. It'll be fun.
I-80 AND BAY BRIDGE ROAD CLOSURES, DETOURS, DELAYS, ETC.
If you're driving to or from Burning Man on I-80, you should check to see if you're going to get waylaid, delayed, detoured or derailed. I-80 is like a contractor's paradise right now, including repaving in Vacaville, roadwork in Colfax, and a long Bay Bridge closure over Labor Day weekend (Sept 3 @ 8am - Sept 8 @ 5am).
Yep, it's nutty, and you'll want to either figure out how to get around it, or factor it into your timing. For full information, visit any or all of these sites:
HANDSFREE LAW IN CALIFORNIA
In case you happen to be passing through California, please note that it's illegal to use a cellphone without a handsfree device. So there ya go.
DRIVING THE SPEED LIMIT IS THE NEW RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION
During Burning Man, there are plenty of law enforcement officers patrolling the routes to the Black Rock Desert, just WAITING for you to speed, so they can write you a nice fat citation. Seriously. Don't speed. It's just not worth it. And just right to care for the safety of the people, children and pets living in the small towns along the way.
SOME HELPFUL ADVICE FROM THE NEVADA HIGHWAY PATROL
Every year the NHP helps hundreds of burners who get stranded or otherwise experience problems on the road to and from the event. At a recent meeting they let us know some super helpful tips to avoid the most common problems that Burners experience while on the road:
...The NHP reports that bald tires are a significant factor in accidents and break downs so be sure to check your tires before you leave for the event and replace those old tires if you need to.
Too tired to drive...
...The NHP reports that of the accidents in September '07 that they relate to Burning Man traffic, the number one reported cause of these accidents was fatigue. Be sure to be well rested and sober (duh), with a copilot to help to keep you company while you drive. Behind the wheel is no place for a playa hangover.
Driving on empty...
...Fill your gas tank before heading out on State Route 447. Turns out lots of people run out of gas to or from the event and there are few gas stations between Gerlach and the rest of the civilized world. Fuel up when you have the chance.
Going for broke...
...If your vehicle breaks down please carefully pull off the road to allow traffic to continue past you safely. NHP may push your vehicle off the road if needed but if you can safely coast or push your vehicle onto a gravel shoulder, please do so.
...The shoulders of State Route 447 and the other rural highways have *very* soft shoulders and the chance of getting stuck is much higher than you expect, especially in the soft sands around Pyramid lake. Only pull over if you absolutely have to and if at all possible only on fully developed gravel shoulders. It's also easy to roll a vehicle if you hit these soft shoulders at high speeds
Watch your load...
...Be sure your any loads on your roof rack or trailers are tied down properly. This especially applies at the end of the event on the way home when you may be tired and less careful about how you load and tie down. Taking a couple of extra minutes to tie down your load is a lot easier than scurrying about on the highway trying to pick up your gear while playing real life frogger with the oncoming traffic.
Hurry up and wait...
...the wait for tow trucks can be very long (think hours and hours). Sitting on the side of the road is a major bummer so please be careful.
HOW TO BEHAVE IF YOU GET PULLED OVER BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
Here's an informative video that explains how to behave if you're pulled over by a law enforcement officer en route to the playa (or anywhere else, for that matter). It's a great explanation of your Constitutional rights, and how to protect them:
DRIVING ROUTE 447? ENJOY "AMERICA'S SOLAR HIGHWAY", COURTESY OF BLACK ROCK SOLAR
Over the last couple years, Black Rock Solar (http:// blackrocksolar.org) has been busy spreading free solar power arrays throughout northern Nevada. In fact, they've been so busy, that Route 447 (from I-80 to Gerlach) ow has more free solar power (120kW) than any other highway in the country. It has thus been dubbed "America's Solar Highway". Cool huh? You can see these arrays from the road, too, so keep an eye out. For more about it, and pictures (including where to find them), see our post in the Burning Blog:
BLACK ROCK CITY AIRPORT
Want to fly your own private plane into Burning Man? We got you covered. In fact, we built an airport on the playa just. for. you. In fact, this year the airport has an official FAA designation: 88- NV. Cool, huh? We think so. Anyway, all the info about flying into, camping at, and departing from the Black Rock City Regional Airport can be found on our airport web pages:
Oh, and the Rabbit wants a spin in your plane. Yes, really. And a pony.
FLYING INTO RENO
If you're going to be flying into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, you have a variety of options for getting to Black Rock City, including shuttle buses, taxis and ridesharing.
For full information about ALL your options, visit our new Reno Airport page on the Burning Man website:
RIDESHARE OPTIONS IN THE RENO AREA
As there are thousands of Burning Man participants that land in Reno every year without much more than the pack on their back, experience has proven that it is possible indeed, and dare we say kind of easy for those without a vehicle to land a rideshare from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, or from the three Rideshare Bases in the Reno area (and there are multiple ways to get TO those bases from the airport):
Whole Foods Market
6139 S Virginia Street
5035 S McCarran Blvd
Save Mart Supermarket
525 Keystone Avenue
Open 24 hours
For all the details, see:
SHUTTLE BUSES SERVICES FROM SF TO BRC AND BACK
Join other intrepid travelers on the Green Tortoise bus from SF to Black rock City. Their buses run on biofuel. And that? Is cool. Info:
Or hit up the Biobus, also running on biofuel. Note: some seats are still available for Tuesday's shuttle -- ALL their other shuttles are sold out. Check it:
Bio Tour is an eco-friendly rideshare on a vegetable oil-energized bus running from SF to BRC. For full information, fares, schedule and to book your seat, visit:
OOOH OOOH OOOH! I WANT TO DRIVE ON THE PLAYA!
A public service announcement about driving on the playa from the Intercept Crew of the Black Rock Rangers:
As you may know, the Special Recreation Permit that allows Burning Man to take place contains a number of stipulations specifically related to motor vehicle use. Addressing vehicle safety concerns within Black Rock City is the responsibility of the Black Rock Rangers. The Rangers' Intercept Program was created in 2004 to address concerns that internal vehicle safety issues would otherwise be dealt with by law enforcement agencies. This is the most important point in understanding the rationale behind Intercept--If we don't address these issues ourselves, someone else will.
As a Citizen of Black Rock City, what do I need to know about driving on the playa?
If you are not authorized to drive on the playa, DON'T DRIVE during Burning Man. The ONLY people who ARE authorized to drive on the playa are registered mutant vehicles with visible licensure from the Department of Mutant Vehicles, artists placing art on the Playa with permits from the Artery, registered disabled persons displaying licensure and a placard, and limited staff vehicles.
ALWAYS operate your APPROVED vehicle in a safe manner. Remember that Black Rock City is primarily a BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN CITY. Take that in to account when operating a mutant vehicle.
Our established community standard is for vehicles to operate at 5 MPH or less. The unique characteristics of many mutated vehicles require drivers to exercise particular care when faced with limited peripheral vision and/or loading and unloading passengers. Please take this into consideration.
All of the laws and restrictions that apply to driving in the default world also apply on the playa. Additionally, playa conditions require that all vehicles STOP during white-out conditions, that you not drive on wet roads, and that you operate at speeds of even less than 5MPH if your vehicle is creating a dust plume in its wake.
What do Intercept Rangers do while interacting with vehicles operating on the playa?
First and foremost, we are Black Rock Rangers, volunteering our time to assist the community. We are available as a resource for vehicle safety, ensuring that citizens, drivers and mutant vehicles are operating in a responsible manner when it comes to driving/riding on the playa in our primarily pedestrian city. We are prone to stopping people to just chat about their kick-ass vehicles ... please chat with us if you can.
If you are placing art on the playa and your driving permit is a temporary slip of paper that we can't see from afar, please be patient with us if we stop you more than once, it's what we do.
We track interactions based on the VEHICLE, not just the driver. One person on your crew driving unsafely can ruin things for everyone.
Remember, in Black Rock City, driving is a privilege. More information about driving protocols can be found here:
A HUMBLE REQUEST FROM DRIVERS OF LEGITIMATELY NON-MUTATED VEHICLES
OK, we love that people are enthusiastic about the idea of a high- quality mutated vehicle. But at the same time, it's good to remember that there are other drivers on playa who are legitimately driving non- mutated vehicles (cars, golf carts, and scooters); it's HIGHLY likely that they are either Burning Man staffers or disabled persons.
It's not uncommon for these folks to get berated by passers-by with snide taunts like "Hey, nice art car!" or "Mutate your vehicle, man!" It's happened to this Rabbit on more than one occasion, in fact, while doing Burning Man-related business. And it kinda sucks, to be honest.
So unless you know the circumstances of their license, please don't be rude to these drivers. Much appreciated.
HAPPINESS IS A SPARE CAR KEY
Every year, Burners manage to lock their keys in their car, or lose their keys altogether. Not only is this a drag, it's an expensive drag. Having a locksmith re-core your lock, open a door, or cut a key can be expensive and time consuming.
So a wee bit o' preparation will save you plenty of strife, strain and struggle, (whether that be scraping up your car with a coat hanger, waiting for the locksmith, replacing a broken window or replacing an ignition core). Simply make an extra key (if you're renting a car, ask for one from the rental company, or go make your own copy), then store it securely *outside* of your car ... just in case it happens to you.
Self reliance at its highest power. Problem solved! Potential lost dollars and sanity saved. See, it really is the key to happiness (ha, get it?)!
GO-PED STYLE VEHICLES AND BLACK ROCK CITY
You may be thinking about bringing a go-ped type vehicle to get around at Burning Man... you may want to think more on that. There are lot of thoughts and strong feelings on this topic, so we thought we would address the issue.
Black Rock City is built primarily for pedestrians and bicycles. It is densely crowed and motorized vehicles can cause safety hazards and difficulties for those traversing our terrain. By necessity, we limit the number of motorized vehicles moving around. This is for reasons of safety as well as to encourage interaction and immediacy within our civic-minded community.
We have, thus far, allowed small, stand-up (with no seat attached, nor designed for a seat), two-wheeled, low-powered, single passenger, go- ped type "scooters" under the driving rules of Black Rock City, even though they are motorized and unlicensed by DMV. If your "scooter" doesn't meet every one of these criteria, please leave it at home!
GoPeds are generally frowned upon by the organization as well as the masses. They are one of the least creative or aesthetically pleasing methods of transportation available at Burning Man. They have historically been allowed mostly because their small size and mass generally doesn't pose a physical hazard much beyond that of a bicycle. However, they do create a number of other issues.
The first is speed. Because these are actually motorized vehicles, they need to obey the 5MPH speed limit and all other driving rules that apply to motorized vehicles. Be mindful of your speed and make sure you're not creating a hazard to others or being a nuisance to the population as a whole. In many cases, playa conditions are such that it is hard to remain upright on go-peds at low speeds--that doesn't mean you can go faster than 5MPH--it means you need to walk beside your mechanical steed. You should also be aware that no vehicle can operate at our event after dark without a headlight and taillight.
The second big issue is noise. Many of these little petroleum powered laziness machines are basically two-stroke, non-muffled, "weed-eaters with wheels". They are loud and annoying to many that they buzz by. For this reason, the electric, battery-powered versions are usually preferred to the gas, but if you do have a gas version, please be sure to get one with a muffler or add a muffler to the one you have.
Also, please do your best to decorate your ride or mutate it to the point that you are actually adding to the quality of visual experience out there instead of detracting from it.
In a tightly packed community of tens of thousands of people, we all need to be individually responsible in how we behave, as it does impact the whole, especially when hundreds or thousands are engaging in behavior that can negatively affect the whole community.
The Gate crew will be helping to identify any vehicle differing from the description above, or that appears to be more dangerous than the kind listed above. If you have such a vehicle, you must either be take it off site or leave it at the gate outside Black Rock City until after the event. Vehicles left outside the gate are left at their owner's risk, so you may just want to leave it at home. Once inside the city, the Rangers keep a close eye on the movement of vehicles, and will work to protect all of us by removing any that violate either the written, implied, or common sense rules of operation.
Please take these thoughts into consideration when planning your trip to Black Rock City. We hope your freedom to use motorized personal transport will be balanced with consideration for your fellow citizens and your sense of civic responsibility. We're confident that you can be more creative than just "buying a scooter" anyway.
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND BLACK ROCK CITY?
4 out of 5 Burners say their favorite method(s) for getting around the playa are, in order of preference:
3. Hop a mutant vehicle (just don't care where you go)
4. Fat-wheel skateboarding
5. Rollerblading (good luck)
6. Being dragged around on a chain by my Dom
THE BRC <--> GERLACH / EMPIRE SHUTTLE BUS
Burning Man runs a shuttle bus that takes passengers from Black Rock City to Gerlach and Empire and back. It costs $10 for the trip, and it departs from Wheel Road and 6:00 (on the outer edge of the Center Camp circle). Full details, schedule, etc. can be found here:
Oh, and you have to be sober and fully clothed to ride the bus. C'mon ... just this once, it's not that hard.
EXODUS: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR ASS ON YOUR WAY OUT
As important as figuring how you are getting to Burning Man is how you are planning to leave, and when. Exodus gets more interesting every year as the population of Black Rock City grows. It's important that you know what to expect and plan accordingly. To state it simply, the highway that leads away from BRC is at capacity for most of the time that Exodus is running.
Short of building a bigger highway between BRC and Reno, there is not much we can do to get more cars off the playa any faster. What we can do though is make the process as run as smoothly and efficiently as Possible, but for that we need your cooperation and participation.
Plan on a 3 - 4 hour wait, on average, in line from BRC to the paved highway, Highway 34. Plan for another 3 hours or more from the start of the highway to Reno. Either of these times could increase to as high as 6 hours or more if there are accidents or other traffic issues, including too many people trying to leave BRC all at once.
If you are making flight reservations or need to get somewhere at a certain time, take this into account. You should not plan on leaving the city and catching a flight the same day! Give yourself some safety margin. Also be aware that if you leave in the evening, you may be driving until early in the morning. Be prepared. Be safe.
So you are asking, "What can we do? When is it best to leave?" Any night from 2am to dawn, Monday night after dark, or yes, Saturday before the Man burns traditionally have less congestion and are the best times to leave. However this does not mean that there will not be any line, you should plan on the same wait times mentioned above.
As far as what you can do, start listening to BMIR radio when you are getting ready to leave, and hang around your packed vehicles in camp. When you hear a positive status report, jump in line. If you hear things are backed up, stay in camp and enjoy a little more of our fair city ... does your camp need another MOOP sweep? Once in line follow the signals from the Exodus personnel on gate road and Flaggers on the highway. When lining up use all the lanes we have laid out for you. There are eight lanes that lead from the city and the process runs much better if all the lanes are used; don't just fill up two of the lanes if they are all marked as open.
Be sure to read your Survival Guide or check the Burning Man web site for more detailed information on Exodus: http://tinyurl.com/55vwr2
Above all, keep that playa vibe with you! No sense getting road rage, cutting in front of your fellow community members, or trying to dangerously pass cars on the highway in order to save a few minutes. Take your time, have fun, and remember, Leave no Trace and the community spirit do not stop once you leave Black Rock City.
Want to do more? We need your help! This year Exodus will need more people than ever. We run shifts from Saturday night all the way through Monday, as well as set up earlier in the week and tear down after our operations end. To volunteer for Exodus fill out the questionnaire at:
Your Exodus Team
DO NOT PASS ... DO NOT GET KILLED
We were going say this ourselves, but Leslie, who wrote in asking us to remind participants about this important issue, is pretty spot on, and she has particular cred in this department, as she notes: "I was struck head-on by a person passing and my car was left three feet shorter. I suffered unbelieveable pain, spent time in a wheelchair and in physical rehabilitation as the result of his one bad choice to pass. Much of what was good in my life has been taken from me as a result."
So ... please take a moment to read and consider her invaluable advice ... since we prefer our Burners alive, thank you. She writes:
"Please, while driving to and from the event do not pass at all between the freeway and the event. Passing simply isn't safe and can lead to fatal head-on collisions. Full-size 18 wheelers regularly use these roads and go the opposite directions from the main traffic at high speeds; they are not watching out for you at all.
You simply cannot count on other drivers in a long line of cars bumper to bumper leaving Burning Man to hang back and let you back into the line when an oncoming vehicle is coming at you head-on at 55-85 mph. The delay for just not passing and patiently following the car in front of you may be only a few additional minutes. The cost of passing may be your life.
Besides, when everyone is in a line to leave Burning Man it is just selfish and pointless to pass an entire line of cars as if they didn't want to go faster. We all have to put up with slowly leaving the playa.
One year while leaving Burning Man I saw a catastrophic accident as the result of someone passing. I've also seen numerous near misses that would have resulted in severe head-on collisions, some with full size 18 wheelers going over 40 mph, that would have killed everyone in the car.
Many people who go to Burning Man just do not understand or appreciate the risk."
YOUR MOM DOESN'T LIVE HERE: WHERE TO TAKE YOUR TRASH AND RECYCLING
First off, please make sure and fully secure your load so that you don't have any random bits and bobs falling off as you drive on the highways. Second, and this really should go without saying, never ever ever dump your trash on the side of the road. Leave No Trace does NOT end at the edge of Black Rock City ... no sir, it doesn't.
Where can you get rid of your trash and recycling that you've carefully packed and secured to your vehicle? Answers here, along with some helpful hints from the Nevada Highway Patrol about getting to and from the playa safely:
RENTING A CAR? CLEAN IT THOROUGHLY ... INCLUDING THE ENGINE
Shelley writes in with a good piece of advice for those renting cars:
"Last year I rented a car from Budget, on my way out I visited the Gerlach Car Wash (very nice people) and wiped the inside very clean.
A month or so later I discovered a charge on my credit card bill for a $300 cleaning fee. After hours of back and forth with the car rental company they finally explained that the ENGINE was dirty. THE ENGINE!!! So, I thought it may be a valuable piece of information for car rental burners to clean the engine before returning the car."
The Official Burning Man Facebook Page:
Official Burning Man Twitter Account - All Things Burning Man:
Black Rock City Twitter Account - All Things BRC:
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Soundtrack for this JRS: Wilco, Black Rock City Department of Public Works