Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 1:31 am | Fair 53º


Local News

Bicycle Coalition Lighting Up the Night with Free Lights for Low-Income Riders

One group is working to light up the night for low-income bicycle riders this week by distributing free bike lights to make their commutes a little bit brighter.

The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition is spearheading the event "Illuminando la Noche" or "Light Up the Night" this week, where they're working to give out 1,400 free bike lights that will help make cyclists more visible to motorists on the road.

Noozhawk caught up with Carmen Lozano, who coordinates Spanish language outreach for the bicycle coalition, who said the group distributed about 150 sets of lights on their first night on Milpas Street.

The group decided Monday would be perfect time to begin the outreach as daylight saving time set in and workers who commute to work found themselves in darkness on the way home.

"We know many people get caught not realizing how dark it will be," she said.

The city has suffered several high-profile cycling fatalities this year after it was discovered that cyclists were operating without lights before they were struck by vehicles.

Lozano said the organization's goal is not to scare or dissuade people from using bicycles as a commuting option, but to educate them about the importance of safety.

Along with the bicycle coalition, the event is sponsored by the city and county of Santa Barbara, Measure A and staffed by volunteers.

In exchange for the free lights, the coalition has volunteers collecting data, Lozano said, such as basic demographic information, whether the person cycles to commute or for recreation as well as questions about safety.

The questions made up a quiz about riding on the sidewalk, which is illegal, helmet use as well as the use of lights on the bikes, she said. The group is also asking what obstacles the cyclists face, whether it's the need for more bike lanes, not having enough light or the like.

"These will help us have a better understanding of what people need," she said.

If people mention being scared about road safety or not having a bike that works, Lozano said they're able to connect them to Bicycle Coalition services, including the streets skills class or the Bici Centro workshop, where volunteers show riders how to repair their own bikes.

Because the group is aiming to give the lights out to low-income adults, they're not advertising exact locations of where they'll be, Lozano said.

They planned to be in Old Town Goleta on Wednesday, followed by the State Street area on Thursday and the Milpas area on Friday. All of the events are attempting to reach out to commuters as they ride home from work.

"Our goal is to educate and prevent accidents," Lozano said. "We want to make sure that people see bicycling as an option."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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