There are few things more dangerous in the evening on busy city streets than cyclists riding around without bike lights. It’s an especially big problem in the winter, when cyclists--some used to only riding during the day--must pedal home during rush hour in the dark. But San Francisco cyclists that have a bum light or lack lights entirely don’t have to head to the store. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) is at the tail end of a month-long campaign to hand out 2,000 bike lights to residents.
The yearly "Light Up the Night" event, put on as part of a partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, features stations along popular city bike routes where cyclists can snag free bike lights during rush hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Front lights feature five LED lights, and the back lights have a number of blinking settings. The SFBC and MTA will even install the lights--and hand out bike safety information, of course.
It’s not just dangerous to ride without lights; it’s also illegal in California and a handful of other states. But with the number of cyclists in San Francisco steadily increasing, chances are that there are more people riding without lights than in past years.
In a similar move this past summer, New York City handed out free bells as part of a program to get bikers to treat the rest of the city’s residents better (and to quell some criticisms of the DOT being grossly pro-bike). It seems that part of encouraging city biking involves giving cyclists a little nudge to remind them that they’re part of the flow of traffic--and subject to some of the same laws.
If you want to snag a light before the SFBC’s event is over, hunt down a free light station (exact locations are secret) by December 15.