Bike advocates want riders to see the light

SYCAMORE GROVE —  Nearly 50 bicyclists were stopped Thursday night at a busy Figueroa Street intersection for riding without a required light. But instead of getting a ticket, they got a free bike light and safety lesson.

Volunteers with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, in partnership with the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, set up the unannounced operation at the northeast corner of North Figueroa and Pasadena Avenue, an intersection on the border with Cypress Park that becomes extremely congested during rush hour with cars, buses, skateboarders, pedestrians and cyclists, said neighborhood council member Martha Benedict.

The outreach and education program called Operation Firefly was created to help people who rely on bicycles for transportation and for the LACBC to gather data on bike use. LACBC members asked the bike riders a series of questions,  such as, “Are you riding tonight for recreation or transportation?” and “Have you ever been in an accident riding at night?” The data is collected and used to learn about bike use in the city and to identify problems.

The California vehicle code requires bikes to be equipped with the following equipment if used at night:

  • A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.
  • A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.
  • A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).

Benedict said that 46 riders received lights during the two hour outreach program.

“The bike riders looked a little startled at first but quickly relaxed as they understood they were not in trouble,” Benedict said of Thursday’s bike light distribution. “Every one of them left happy with their new lights and greater confidence that they’d get home safely.”





  1. These idiots never follow the laws always running red lights and stop signs

  2. This is great news! I see an unbelievable number of bike riders at night with NO light on their bike! Really stupid and dangerous. Along these lines of helping out the public, LAFD is also giving out smoke alarms in some areas. http://www.cd13.com/city_to_distribute_free_smoke_detectors_at_lafd_stations

  3. yeah, I am amazed at how many folks I see riding with no lights at night. That lady in the picture with the kids should be ashamed for putting her kids at such risk.

    When I bike commute, I look like “close encounters of the third kind” with an array of lights and reflectors on my helmet, bike, racks and bags.

    • You also probably do other un-cool things, like stop at stop signs and ride in the bike lane and have working brakes.

    • Heheh… yeah, nothing wrong with lighting up like a Christmas tree. Better to be seen than run down by some drunk driver.

    • Her kids are also at risk of having a fun childhood, staying healthy by getting around using their own bodies, and hanging with their mom. The real risks these kids face are from all the other people in steel cages rushing around them and the planners in city hall who’ve made Figueroa into a loud, polluted, stroad that kills community life.

      I understand the point you were trying to make, but please – the point of this outreach was to respectfully help people understand the local laws and best practices. Save the venom for those who deserve it.

  4. Problem is when you go to the bike shops they charge $30 for a pair of front/back lights and then they get stolen. Only online you can find lights for under ten bucks.

  5. Kudos to the LA Bike Coalition for doing something helpful and generous!

  6. Seriously, none of us should use this a platform to complain about bike riders or bike lanes. This is your community at work doing something actually constructive. Way more than Cedillo’s stop sign go-to fix-all.

    • Thank god for cedillo

      • Mando, I know it’s unrelated but let me say I think it’s hilarious you complain about “expensive” (read: quality) restaurants in HLP yet want an Olive Garden in the neighborhood. News flash– the prices at Olive Garden are comparable to Ba Restaurant. For serious, check out their menus and compare.

        • He has also publicly stated his support for more strip clubs on Figueroa. I am always on the fence with Mando – he could be the cleverest troll in NELA or just one very not-so-sharp neighbor.

  7. Go Operation Firefly!

    People don’t have bike lights for a variety of reasons: they can be expensive, they can be stolen, people don’t know about the laws. Sure, it’s common sense to be lit up, but sometimes things get in the way. It’s great that the LACBC and community organizations are taking an proactive approach to improving safety. And it’s great that bike light companies are selling lights for this cause at a super reduced rate.

  8. Good job. Maybe now they can support common sense and the law by reminding cyclists that they MUST WEAR A HELMET IN TRAFFIC. Not cool to put every driver on pins and needles trying to keep track of these shaggy-haired free-riders improvising their way through rush-hour traffic.

    • I don’t think that’s the law for adults.

    • *yawn* it is not mandatory to wear a helmet if one is over 18, no matter how much you want it to be.

    • As usual, COMMON SENSE doesn’t prevail among the entitled cyclists, which contradicts their focus on safety while highlighting their missionary self-righteousness. Otherwise, who is going to reasonably argue against helmets in rush-hour traffic? Or they can legally cycle on sidewalks and spare drivers the anxiety of watching/causing of them to do a “Busey” into a concrete curb.

      • Drivers already need to give three feet. Anxiety? Just slow down and pass when it is safe to do so, that isn’t asking too much is it?

        A helmet will not protect me from a distracted, impatient, or otherwise law-breaking driver.

        Common sense is obeying the law and safely negotiating around the bicyclist. I’m obeying all laws and the drivers around me should too. What you are asking is that I take a preventative measure to anticipate a law-breaking behavior from a driver that may injure me. If you ask me, the one braking the law sure seems to be behaving in an entitled manner, not me.

  9. Yeah I think it is great to give these people lights – Safety should always come first no matter what. Now if we can have a class on bicycle rules of the road like actually stopping at a red light or signaling when cutting across lanes of traffic!!!

    • I don’t want to generalize because I know bike riders that actually obey the law, but often I have to avoid bike riders that run stop signs, cut out into traffic lanes, and go the wrong way in traffic and have the audacity to flip the finger when autos pass their unlawful paths. Maybe if more paid attention to rules and traffic laws there would be less complaining on their part.

  10. Great that bicyclists now have lights. Now we can see you better. That helps keep everyone safe.

    Now just leave car drivers alone! No removal of bike lanes!!

  11. There is an short audio segment about this light and safety info giveaway:


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