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.