Local organizations passed out 100 bike light sets to students and faculty members with bikes on campus Tuesday, Nov. 18, and Wednesday, Nov. 19.
The two-day giveaway was part of the See and Be Seen campaign which aims to make cyclists more visible and drivers more aware of riders. Western Washington University's Sustainable Transportation Office partnered with the City of Bellingham and everybodyBIKE, a program that promotes biking for daily transportation, handed out the lights last week.
The City of Bellingham received a transportation safety grant specifically correlated with Indian Street, said Wendy Crandall, sustainable transportation program assistant.
“Much of the traffic going up and down Indian Street is either bound for or coming from campus,” Crandall said. “They felt it was appropriate to use their grant funding to reach out specifically to the Western community.”
Those who already had lights, the See and Be Seen campaign rewarded them with coffee.
Members of the campaign plan to place their logo on Bellingham, Wash., buses starting this month, Crandall said.
Western junior Ian Ferris waited for a rear bike light in front of the See and Be Seen booth outside of Wade King Student Recreation Center on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 19.
Ferris knew state law required a front light and he has had one since the beginning of school this year, but never a backlight, he said. Before September, Ferris rode his bike in the dark, and used his phone as a flashlight, he said.
“It was pretty dangerous,” he said.
To increase visibility, cyclists should turn lights on before dusk, Crandall said. Wearing reflective or light-colored clothing can make a cyclist even more visible.
“One thing we can do as cyclists is ride predictably and follow the laws,” Crandall said.
Drivers have a lot to look for, she said, watching for things that are unpredictable can make it even more of a challenge.
Washington state law requires cyclists traveling during hours of darkness to have a white light visible for 500 feet in the front and a red reflector in the back, according to the City of Bellingham’s website.
Both Bellingham Police and University Police will institute additional enforcement from Nov. 20 through Dec. 10, University Police Sgt. Bianca Smith said.
The police forces will concentrate on educating cyclists, Smith said, although a typical infraction is $124.
Jackson Lundgren, a sophomore, was stopped on High Street while riding his skateboard on Tuesday night, Nov. 18.
“A motorcycle cop lit his lights up, pulled me over and gave me a ticket for obstructing the roadway because I didn’t have lights,” Lundgren said.
He did not have any lights on his bike, but received a pair through the See and Be Seen campaign.
Lundgren said he will absolutely ride with his lights in the future. “It’s a really good program because it is hard for students when they get tickets, and it is much safer to ride at night with lights,” Lundgren said.