Wednesday, October 7, 2009
"Columbia police stopped dozens of people on Monday night, not for drunk driving or speeding, but because they didn't have lights on their bicycles.
However, instead of getting a ticket for violating a city ordinance, police gave them free lights for their bikes, thanks to some generous donations.
The original plan was to have Columbia police pull over bicyclists riding at night without lights during several nights this week.
However, the “bike right, use a light” program was cut short when police ran out of free lights on the first night. Columbia police officers partnered with the PedNet Coalition to distribute about 50 free bicycle lights instead of handing out tickets. A city ordinance requires lights on the front and back of a bicycle at night. The lights do more than just help cyclists see where they are going.
“Safety, of course, is the main concern," PedNet Coalition spokeswoman Janet Godon said. "A lot of people think that you need a light so that you can illuminate where you are going, so you can see where you are going. Of course, that’s important. It’s more important for motor vehicle drivers to see you coming down the road at night, and to be able to see from behind with your red light or red reflector.”
The Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and the Columbia Bike Club provided the free bicycle lights. Columbia police also took another approach to improve bicycle safety. Last Wednesday, officers conducted a special traffic detail in downtown Columbia. They gave tickets to 17 cyclists for riding on the sidewalk and four cyclists for running stop signs. One cyclist got a ticket for failure to yield at an intersection."