Thousands Of Bikes Left Behind At Burning Man Are Heading To Hurricane Victims

October 2, 2017

70,000 people attended Nevada's Burning Man festival this September, leaving behind 5,000 bicycles that were all going to be scrapped.

The photo below, posted on Instagram by Logan Mirto, quickly went viral and caught the attention of two Good Samaritans who plan to save as many bikes as possible and donate them to families in need of transportation after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

thousands bikes burning man donated to Houston hurricane victims
Photo: Logan Mirto / Instagram

Matthew Rockwell, founder of the charity start-up Disaster Hack, immediately made the connection between the abandoned bikes and the thousands of destroyed cars in Houston. He started picking through the pile and pulled out about 500 bikes.

The photo also caught the attention of Meg Kiihne, who once lived and ran a bike shop on Turks and Caicos. She says she knew bicycles could be useful in the recovery effort after Hurricane Irma.

Kiihne rented a truck and a storage unit in Reno and managed to recover over 100 bikes.

"Bikes can enable somebody who may have lost their home and staying with a friend, they can get to their job at a resort so they can continue to make money to help rebuild their home... they can get around on a bike and get to food," Kiihne told the BBC.

thousands bikes burning man donated to Houston hurricane victims
Credit: Meg Kiihne

Within two days, all the bikes had been picked up.

Once the bikes are cleaned, the next challenge will be to get them to Houston and the Caribbean. Kiihne started a GoFundMe page to help with shipping costs.

Carter Stern, the executive director of Houston's bike share programe, believes he could easily find owners for all of Rockwell's recovered bicycles.

"A lot of people who lost a vehicle all the sudden can't get to work, can't afford to get a new car. Long after the TV cameras have left Houston there's going to be a lingering need for transportation options," Stern told the BBC. "I think we can give away 1,000-2,000 bikes, no question."

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