Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, eating away an hour of light in the evening. So you gotta get your bike ready for darker commutes if you haven’t already, and Commute Seattle wants to help.
This is the second year Commute Seattle has help Light Up Your Ride, an event to provide folks with a place to ask questions about bike commuting in the dark and to get some advice on how to stay visible through the winter. Plus, there’s free coffee and prizes and stuff.
Personally, I finally made the jump to dynamo lights (powered by a generator in the front wheel hub), and so far I’m loving it. It wasn’t exactly a cheap upgrade (you gotta get a new wheel), but neither was replacing finicky battery-powered lights that break every year. In many European countries, bikes cannot legally be sold without lights, and some countries even require that dynamo-powered lights come standard on new most bikes.
But the US bike market never adopted a bike light requirement, so it’s up to you to figure out a solution that works for you and fits in your budget. But lights absolutely are not optional. You are legally required to have a headlight and a rear reflector, though a rear light is highly recommended. Studies suggest that people biking at night without lights often feel more visible than they really are.
Commute Seattle and the Seattle Department of Transportation are hosting the 2nd Annual Light Up Your Ride! event on October 30 from 4:00-6:00pm in McGraw Square (5th and Stewart). Bicycle commuting in Downtown Seattle is up 18 percent since 2010, and new investments such as Pronto Cycleshare and Protected Bike Lanes on Broadway and 2nd Avenue are enabling this growth to continue. As the days get shorter and the clocks change, Light Up Your Ride is a critical reminder to Downtown’s 6,500 bicycle commuters to make themselves visible to cars and buses.
An Australian study released in 2013 revealed that people bicycling without any lights or reflective clothing overestimated their visibility by 200 percent. Conversely, lights and reflective clothing are so effective that people using them actually underestimate their visibility. While front lights and rear reflectors are legally required, reflective clothing is underappreciated but often more impactful, especially when viewed from the side.
Light Up Your Ride is a fun and festive way to get this message out. Commute Seattle will be giving away RydeSafe reflective stickers to the first 500 attendees, and will also be raffling off two Citizen Night reflective messenger bags from Chrome Industries. VeloBikeShop will display dozens of bike light varieties, Caffe Vita will provide afternoon coffee, Project 529 will showcase its pioneering bike security app, and representatives from Cascade Bicycle Club and the Seattle Department of Transportation will be on hand to answer any bike-related questions.
“Seattle’s transportation system works best when all users work together to ensure safety, visibility, and courtesy,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “We all share a mutual responsibility for safety, and I commend Commute Seattle for bringing attention to this critical issue as we head into winter.”
“Just as we can’t imagine a car being sold without lights, we must come to a similar understanding for people on bikes,” said Commute Seattle Executive Director Jessica Szelag. “Basic safety requires both lights and reflective surfaces, and Light Up Your Ride is our way of raising awareness of a serious issue in a really fun way.”