Riding your bike at night in Los Angeles when the sun goes down poses safety concerns for cyclists and motorists alike, and there is even a state law on the books to require that riders be visible.
Bicycle Kitchen in Silver Lake has been one place where riders can pick up the lights they need.
The Los Angeles County Bike Coalition launched "Operation Firefly" last fall to ensure Angelenos riding bicycles have front and rear lights, but one of its organizers says they are running out and need donations to continue the light purchases.
"It's tough enough as it is to make a motorist see you riding during the day, let alone at night," said Colin Bogart, education director of LACBC. "I found myself ridng behind a kid the other night who nearly got hit by a driver turning left, because he didn’t have a light. Our goal is to get people to have a light, particularly that front light. I have seen police pull over bicyclists and citing them. Those can be, from what I understand, pretty expensive."
"We're doing street distribution of lights around town, focusing on lower income communities and most likely people riding without lights who need them," he said.
"Operation Firefly" started with 500 sets of lights and in December had already given out more than 300 sets. LACBC also has the lights for sale.
"We've recooped about one third of our initial investment," he said, "but we could really use community's help for donations and light purchases. Eventually, we're going to run out and I'd like to keep this program going throughout the winter months until [Daylight Savings] time changes again."
Bogart said they've done four street distributions and in each case, they went through 40 to 50 lights in about 90 minutes.
In addition to front and rear lights, LACBC is distributing "Operation Firefly" spoke cards in English and Spanish, which will provide a summary of the California Vehicle Code requirements while riding at night, along with additional tips for enhanced visibility when it's dark.
Bogart added that LACBC is working with bike co-ops spread throughout L.A. to help distribute the lights, spoke card and its message. Some of those co-ops include:
- Santa Monica Spoke
- The Bikerowave in West L.A.
- The Bicycle Kitchen in Silver Lake
- The Bike Oven in the Mount Washington-Highland Park area
- Valley Bikery in San Fernando Valley
- The HUB Community Bike Center in Long Beach
For more information on LACBC's "Operation Firefly" program, click here.