Bike lights are not optional. Aside from being required by law (technically, only front light and rear reflector are required), lights are vital if you are going to be visible to folks driving, biking and walking at night and sun-in-the-eyes situations.
Studies have shown that people on bikes naturally feel more visible to others than they actually are. Unfortunately, this leads people to a false sense of security about biking without lights (or with very poor lights).
The US never developed a bike culture where standard city bikes are sold with wheel-generated dynamo lights as is the case in some European countries (can you imagine buying a car with “optional” headlights?). So the impetus is on you to make sure you and your bike are visible.
The city and Commute Seattle want to help you out. They are hosting an event Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at 5th and Stewart.
Commute Seattle and the Seattle Department of Transportation are hosting the 1st Annual Light Up Your Ride! event on October 24 from 4-6pm in McGraw Square (5th and Stewart). Bicycle commuting in Downtown Seattle is up 18% since 2010, with 6,500 Downtown commuters choosing to bicycle each weekday. As the days get shorter and the clocks change, people bicycling need to take special care to be visible to cars and buses.
An Australian study released this year revealed that people bicycling consistently overestimate their visibility to vehicles, and that simple steps can be taken to greatly increase visibility. While front and rear bicycle lights are essential – and required by city law – reflectivity is underappreciated but often more impactful, especially when viewed from the side.
Attendees can peruse the latest in lighting, visibility, and winter gear from VeloBikeShop and Wandergoods, sip hot chocolate, work on their bike at the Sportworks’ fix-it stand, practice loading their bicycles onto a Metro bus, and take home swag and raffle prizes from Commute Seattle and Seattle Department of Transportation.
“Seattle started the Be Super Safe campaign because we are all responsible for looking out for each other on our city’s roads,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Working together we can reduce collisions between bicycles, buses, and cars, and proper lighting is an important part of that. We’re proud to partner with Commute Seattle on this critical issue.”
“Being able to see and to be seen are the most important safety considerations bicyclists should take into account during winter bike commuting,” said Commute Seattle Interim Executive Director Jessica Szelag. “Front and rear lights alone are not enough to be seen from a distance by cars and buses. We hope to show commuters how adding reflective tape, lights, and clothing can really increase your safety when riding on city streets at night.”