The sun begins to set on the streets of Bakersfield well before 5 p.m. these days, making safety paramount for those exercising, walking their pets, or driving about in the evening hours.
For bicyclists, in particular, the nighttime can pose a significant risk. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists sharing the road with them, but also for bike riders to have the proper safety equipment and be easily seen.
Bike Bakersfield — in partnership with Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and PG&E — are hoping to make Kern County’s roads a little safer for drivers and cyclists alike through the Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield.
The giveaways will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday (except Dec. 14) until Jan. 25. Riders must bring their bikes to receive one set of lights per person. The four distribution locations are as follows:
- Bike Bakersfield: 1708 Chester Ave.
- Corner of Niles Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue
- Corner of North Chester Avenue and Roberts Lane
- Planz Park: Planz Road and South H Street
In California, the law states that any cyclist riding at night needs to have a white headlamp, a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals, and white or yellow reflectors on each side. But when it comes to night riding, it pays to go well beyond the law to make your bike noticeable. A blinking red light, for example, is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.
In Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Police Department has also joined the battle to make our community safer for cyclists. The department recently was awarded a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program for bicycle and pedestrian safety and education to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. The number of people killed has climbed nearly 17 percent across the state with 3,176 killed in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Particularly alarming is the six year rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.
For those cycling at night, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wishes to provide you with the following additional safety tips:
- Have multiple lights, varying from ones that alert other road users to your presence to lights that are strong enough to illuminate the road ahead. LED technology has transformed cycle lights.
- Don’t ride in the gutter when riding in the dark as this is where the majority of road debris will go.
- Remember to take spares on a night ride. Riding in the dark could hide hazards such as potholes and broken glass that can cause punctures or other mechanical problems.
- Plan your route.
- Ride with fellow cyclists so you can be seen more easily.
- Don’t assume you have been seen by other road users.
- Be prepared for mechanical issues. Make sure to carry enough tools, including spare inner tubes.
- Wear bright colors such as white and yellow instead of black to make yourself more visible.
If you or someone you know is involved in a bicycle accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to submit a contact form.
- Bike Bakersfield to hand out free bike lights (The Bakersfield Californian – Nov. 28, 2016)
- Project Light Up The Night provides lights for bicyclists in Bakersfield (KERO-23, ABC – Nov. 23, 2016)
- Bike Bakersfield handing out free bicycle lights while supplies last (KGET-17, NBC – Nov. 23, 2016)