The end of daylight savings time always seems to catch some commuters by surprise. They may be used to riding in the dark in the morning, but the switch to riding home in the dark seems to come as a surprise to some. The amazing people at Bike Arlington (www.bikearlington.com) realize this and schedule events that help people be visible and safe when they're riding.
Monday was the first Lights for Bikes event of the season. We set up at the intersection of Lynn Street and the Mount Vernon Trail near Key Bridge in Rosslyn, VA. The goal is to help cyclists, runners and pedestrians be visible to each other and to cars. Visibility is a HUGE part of being safe.
We gave away and installed hundreds of sets of lights… they are little flashy lights, red for the back and white for the front, that really do a great job of making a people visible. The cool thing is that they also work very well when attached to strollers, dogs and running shoes. In addition to this, we gave out information on riding safely and where to get more serious lights that will also help you see the road ahead of you.
Reflective clothing is a big part of being visible. Bike Arlington gave away reflective leg straps that not only help you be visible, but also keep your pants out of your chain. Reflective bike vests were being given out to take visibility to the next level. You'll hear me talking about visibility a lot in this blog. It is one of the biggest problems that cyclists have when commuting at night.
This year was much better for the Lights for Bikes than last! There will always be people who try to ride past and have no interest in being visible… even when it is free. Last year there were 30 or 40 who were much more intent on riding past, sometimes being quite rude about it. This is understandable in some ways. Some cyclists tend to be in their zone and don't want to be bothered. When there's a big group of people taking up the trail installing lights, I can see how they would be very intent on getting through and on their way home.
The cool thing this year was that I really only saw 3 or 4 people who were more intent on getting through the light than stopping to get free lights. There were some folks who said they didn't need the lights… and they all were well lit and reflective.
Bike Arlington is definitely not the only group that is doing this. WABA is doing their "Got Lights?" promotion through their bike ambassadors over the next few weeks. The Crystal City Business Improvement District did a bike light give-away last week on the Mount Vernon trail. You'll hear more about those as they happen. :D
Have a great week. Be seen!