If you're the type of biker who doesn't like to ride with lights, think again. This fall, the Portland Police will begin stopping and citing cyclists who are riding at night without proper lights -- they'll also be giving out free lights.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance will also be holding outreach events and giving out free lights in addition to the police department's enforcement actions.
"The Eye to Eye Campaign is a project all about bike light education and visibility for cyclists," said Stephanie Noll, BTA outreach coordinator. "Especially as our days are getting shorter and there's a lot of new cyclists out on the road who haven't had the opportunity to learn what the laws are on cycling in general and particularly bike lights."
The most common causes of a crash between a bicycle and an automobile involve the front of a bike, Noll said. Some cyclists believe that just wearing a rear red light will be sufficient to keep them safe. Not so. Rear end collisions are fairly rare. A cyclist is much more likely to be right-hooked, left-hooked or T-boned.
"A lot more accidents occur with cyclists who have been hit from the front or the side, where the front white light is what really would have made them more visible," Noll said.
To be in compliance with Oregon state law, a cyclist must have a front white light visible by 500 feet and a red reflector or lighting device visible up to 600 feet in the rear. Not complying with light laws after dusk carries a maximum fine of up to $90. But the BTA would rather see people lighted than ticketed.
"We've already done one event in Northeast Portland right by the Steel Bridge, we have one planned this Friday in Southeast, and we have another one planned in North Portland," said Noll. Police plan to give warnings and lights in the Mississippi Business District and near PCC-Cascade.
For more information go to www.bta4bikes.org.