Last month, on September 11th, the the 6th annual Light the Night was held. The purpose was simple: install over 700 sets of lights – both front and back – on area bikes at no cost to their owners. The aim was (a) to make locals’ bikes street legal for use during the night and (b), more importantly, to ensure that CU cyclists are biking safely at all hours. Lights were provided by the Campus Area Transportation Survey, and installation was done with lots of help from the Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign and over 50 volunteers from the community. Community is something that we care about deeply here at Neutral Cycle and, sure enough, three Neutral employees were on-site to assist with the installation of the free lights.
Biking is something that is not dangerous if done with care and if attention paid to those behaviors that can minimize danger. These are fairly well known and basic: signal when turning, be aware of your surroundings, wear a helmet, etc. Paramount amongst these is having proper lights and reflectors for biking at night. Being able to see other vehicles and debris on the road isn’t the only issue here. More than that, it’s important that others see you. Most people have confidence in their ability ride, but you should never rely too much on others’ abilities to share the road with you.
Illinois law requires that bikers have both a rear reflector and a front light if they’re riding at night. A rear light, though not required, is certainly helpful towards making you visible. That said, a rear light is not a substitute for a reflector, and having both is ideal. Tickets for failure to have proper lighting at night will set you back $100, well under the cost of a light. At our shop, we have lights available for as cheap as $10 – don’t wait for the 7th Light the Night. We’ll throw in a reflector for free if you need one. Having required lighting will not only save you from that fine, but it may also save your life – no joke. It’s certainly nothing to take lightly. (I’m sorry; I’ll stop.)
Light the Night has been going on for 6 years now and over that time, thousands sets of lights have been installed on CU bikes. It’s connected with the Bike Project, a community-based non-profit organization designed to help area residents to get bikes, learn about bikes, and keep their bikes in tip-top shape. If you’re interested in the Bike Project or want to help them, you can visit their website or either of their locations in downtown Urbana and on campus.
Check out some of our photos of the event: