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UCLA Bicycle Coalition hands out lights as part of safety campaign

By Tala Ahmadi

March 7, 2014 5:21 p.m.

Members of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition cheered and handed out free bike lights to cyclists passing by on Wednesday night as part of a campaign to promote bike safety.

The project, called Operation Firefly, was spearheaded by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to increase biker visibility, said Hyeran Lee, advocacy chair of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition and a graduate student in urban planning.

“Safety is a huge issue,” said Casey Osborn, a member of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition and a graduate student in urban planning. “If you are in a big intersection (where) all the roads leading into campus are, it can be really dangerous if no one can see you.”

The coalition purchased 100 lights, each for a reduced cost of $5, and handed them out at the corner of Strathmore and Gayley avenues. The group distributed about half of the lights at its pilot Operation Firefly last week on the corner of Le Conte Avenue and Westwood Boulevard.

The student bicycle coalition, the Westwood/UCLA branch of the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, received its funds from the Healthy Campus Initiative, which aims to increase the availability of healthy lifestyle choices for the UCLA community.

Many of the cyclists who stopped for the free lights were aware of the California law that mandates bikes must have a front white light and side, back and pedal reflectors at night, but hadn’t purchased them yet.

“I didn’t have a light and was just relying on my reflectors,” said Konstantin Dragomiretskiy, a graduate student in mathematics. “I think I’m too complacent about the bike safety around UCLA but obviously that does not extend into the rest of L.A.”

The Bicycle Coalition also handed out safety information and conducted brief surveys to determine why people did not have lights, Lee said. They also informed cyclists who stopped about their rights on the road.

“It’s nice to see that … there is a real bike community here because sometimes it is unsafe to bike in Westwood or (around) UCLA,” said Brandon Fox, a fourth-year political science student who stopped for the free lights.

The UCLA Bicycle Coalition is partnering with the USC Bicycle Coalition to plan joint events and host a podcast radio show on Bike Talk, which is on the KPFK network.

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Tala Ahmadi
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