"Lighten up Columbia" gives out free bike lights for safety

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COLUMBIA - As it gets darker earlier and lighter later, Columbia is promoting bicycle safety and the importance of cyclists being well lit. 

Benedict Nagy, a sales representative at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia and GetAbout Columbia recreation leader, said there is a lot of misinformation about bicycle safety.

"A lot of people assume riding a bike a certain way is safe, when in fact, it isn't," he said. "A lot of people ride against traffic, wearing dark colored clothing and not having any lights or reflectors on their bikes."

Ian Barr, a Columbia resident, rides his bicycle to get around. He said cyclists should do everything they can to make themselves visible because it could be dangerous to ride in the street at night.

"I know people aren't always looking out for bikers, so you kind of have to look out for them," Barr said. 

Nagy said cyclists should do anything they can to make themselves more visible to avoid any collisions.  

"Lighten Up Columbia" is a joint campaign between the Columbia Police Department, GetAbout Columbia and Columbia Parks and Recreation to increase bicycle safety.

Barr said this initiative should definitely help both cyclists and drivers.

"A lot of people just hop on a bike and just kind of go," Barr said. "I've done it before when I'm in a hurry, but you should be careful because there are people that are not really thinking about you."

The campaign focuses on handing out free lights, but cyclists need to make sure their lights work.

"There is definitely an issue with maintaining the batteries and making sure that the batteries are fresh," Nagy said. "There's a big drop off in the brightness of the light depending on the condition of the batteries."

The campaign also focuses on the importance of wearing high visibility clothing. 

The law requires cyclists to have front-facing white lights on their bicycles and a red reflector in the back. Those who ride without proper lighting could face a $49 fine. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2012 states 48% of bicycle-related deaths happened between 4 p.m. and midnight.

The Columbia Police Department partnered with Columbia Parks and Recreation and started the initiative "Lighten Up Columbia." The program will attempt to make it safer to ride bikes like these at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates 69 percent of bicycle fatalities in the United States occur in urban areas. The law requires cyclists to stay visible in the dark, although most bikes, like these at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, don't come with a front light or taillight.

Wearing a helmet, like these at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, can keep cyclists safe. The Columbia Police Department partnered with Columbia Parks and Recreation and started the initiative "Lighten Up Columbia."

Wearing reflective clothing, like these jackets at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, can keep cyclists safe in the dark. The Columbia Police Department partnered with Columbia Parks and Recreation and started the initiative "Lighten Up Columbia."

It is not only safe, but it is also required by law to attach red reflectors, like these at Walt's Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, on the back of all bikes. The Columbia Police Department partnered with Columbia Parks and Recreation and started the initiative "Lighten Up Columbia."

 

 

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