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.”