Bicycle Light Distribution and Night Traffic Safety Tips

As the clocks “fall” back and darkness closes in earlier this month, Illuminando La Noche/Light up the Night volunteers greeted bicycle commuters in the street last week. The City of Santa Barbara partnered with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE) to distribute 900 white front and red rear LED lights to bicycle riders on the streets of Santa Barbara. SBBIKE also distributed 500 more lights in Goleta and Carpinteria, for a total of 1400 lights across the South Coast last week.

“The City of Santa Barbara is proud to be a partner with the community to promote safe night riding by distributing free blinking bicycle lights to those who can’t afford or don’t have access to them,” said Sarah Grant, Mobility Coordinator. “Bicycle lights are a necessity for increasing visibility when riding in the dark.” Check out one of many local bike shops in Santa Barbara County or SBBIKE’s BiciCentro for bicycle light options.

It is essential to prepare your bicycle for night riding by having lights, reflectors and reflective clothing. “In the last 18 months, the City has had six fatal traffic collisions,” states City of Santa Barbara Police Sergeant Riley Harwood. “Of those, three involved bicyclists who died in the collision after being struck by a person driving a motor vehicle at night. In all three bicycle collisions, the ability to see the person riding a bicycle was a key factor.”

It is also important to make yourself visible when walking at night along dark sidewalks and crossing dim intersections. “Don’t assume that drivers can see you,” says Derrick Bailey, City of Santa Barbara Traffic Engineer. “About one third of all pedestrian involved crashes happen at night.” When walking or jogging in the evening make sure drivers see you before crossing their path.

When driving in evening hours be alert for pedestrians at intersections and attentive to bicyclists in the roadway. Do not use the cell phone for texting or phone calls, and eliminate other distractions to be focused on the road. Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s handheld or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (Source: NHTSA). Keeping windshields and mirrors clean increases your ability to see traffic and more vulnerable road users, such as people walking and bicycling at sunset and evening hours.

Good tips for Driving

· Use caution and be patient.

· Keep your windows clean and headlights well maintained.

· Do not text or talk on the cell phone, reduce all distractions.

· At intersections always scan the sidewalks and crosswalks looking for pedestrians. Yield to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks at all intersections.

· When approaching a right turn, do not pass a bicyclist on the left, slow down, wait and turn after the person riding has passed through the intersection.

Good Tips for Bicycling

· Equip your bicycle with a white headlamp that illuminates the roadway and can be seen from front and sides for at least 300 feet. Consider adding a secondary white light that flashes.

· Equip your bicycle with a red rear reflector and/or light.

· Wear a helmet to protect your skull and brain.

· Wear reflective clothing and/or add reflective features on your bicycle or helmet.

· Follow the rules of the road; the same rules apply to drivers of bicycles as drivers of motor vehicles.

Good tips for Walking

· Carry a flashlight and/or wear reflective clothing or vests.

· Try to walk on well lit routes. But even if crossing under a streetlight, don’t assume that drivers can see you.

· Be extra cautious when crossing the street.

· Make sure drivers see you, by slowing and stopping.

· Be sure that drivers in all lanes and both directions see you and stop before crossing their path.

Night Traffic Safety Tips

Local Resources for Bicycle Lights

More Resources:

California Vehicle Code for Bicycling:

Bicycling Safely:

Walking Safely:

Driving Safely:

Illuminando La Noche/ Light up the Night Photos by Carson Blume


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