Electric Bicycles and Tricycles in BRC.

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
Colonel Monk
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Electric Bicycles and Tricycles in BRC.

Postby Colonel Monk » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:29 pm

So.... <apologies for long post>

It's been two years and one Bman in-between events since a thread I was following about electric bikes was started. I had intended to electrify my heavy rickshaw to make it more viable on playa, particularly when trying to move 2-3 people around in the rear seat. Oh and also particularly since we're in a trend where the playa is not sufficiently "healing" itself to the perfectly flat surface it was in the past.

Last year I came to the burn, but due to work pressures did not have time to dive into this project. But this year I will complete it.

I noticed MANY more powered bicycles last year - electric as well as those with cheap chinese-made 2 cycle engines, spewing smoke and making noise..

Looking on the Borg site, I see that nothing has changed regarding their powered vehicle policy, including e-bikes - though e-bikes don't seem to be specifically forbidden, the same vague language exists as well the logic-defying language regarding scooters that don't have a seat still exists.

One thing has changed though in Nevada law, from Wiki-Pedia:

"As of May 19, 2009, Nevada amended its state transportation laws to explicitly permit electric bicycles to use any "trail or pedestrian walkway" intended for use with bicycles and constructed with federal funding, and otherwise generally permits electric bicycles to be operated in cases where a regular bicycle could be. An electric bicycle is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals with an electric motor producing up to 1 gross brake horsepower and up to 750 watts final output, and with a maximum speed of up to 20 miles per hour on flat ground with a 170 pound rider when powered only by that engine."

So in the state of Nevada it is legal to ride an electric bicycle or tricycle on sidewalks and other pedestrian areas, but not at BRC?

I intend to bring my trike (rickshaw) to the event this year and participate in some civil disobedience if necessary to use it. It:

-will be electric and nearly silent
-will have pedals (eg, not a motorcycle)
-will transport 3+ people
-will have cool lights
-will have music
-will be artful
-will be available for the public to ride
-will be travelling safely

Charging will be accomplished by solar power and potentially also theme camp grid (one of the benefits of being part of theme/sound camps)

My rickshaw will not:

-be noisy
-belch two-stroke oil smoke
-be travelling fast, zig-zagging thru people making them dodge out of the way
-be trailing a dust cloud bigger than a large mutant vehicle
-be suitable for only one person

Perhaps the most annoying statement of all regarding the stand-up scooters is this:

"Though not an encouraged means of transportation, small, stand-up (no seat), one-person style “skateboards on wheelsâ€

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Postby AntiM » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:42 pm

Had you scrolled down a bit more in the Q&A forum, you would have found this thread:


Go for it!

Colonel Monk
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Ah ha!

Postby Colonel Monk » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:19 am

I didn't see that, thank you!

Would be nice and appropriate if they would amend the published policy though....

This is a good thing for brc so long as we all be safe and don't give e-bikes a bad name.

No doubt for some this will uncover a new problem: how to charge your batteries.

I would encourage folks to go solar if you can - plenty of sun out there.

Generators are convenient but at a price - noisy for you neighbors... Some like the Honda eu series and yamahas are totally tolerable. Others like the 2 stroke $200 Chinese ones are horrible at best and will cry out "sabotage me". Anyway, the quality is so bad they will likely let you down.

The trick is to use a fast charger that will pull the heaviest load your battery pack and genny can stand. This way, you can run the generator just an hour or two instead of several.

More on that later, hub motors unite!


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Ugly Dougly
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:08 am

Dope your Bike:
Art is what you can get away with.

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Postby rodiponer » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:30 am

I wouldn't buy a generator just to charge a bike.

My electric bike + kiddie bike trailer last year was powered by 20 amp/hours of batteries at 12 volts. This is 4 small batteries that are normally used for emergency exit lights.

They lasted about halfway through the event. I recharged them by asking a neighbor who was already running his generator if I could plug in while he ran his. The battery charger only eats 50 watts, as much as a small laptop, and so didn't take any capacity away from his refrigerator or whatever he was running it for.

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