Campus sheds light on bicycle safety

Students can now light their way home with freely installed bike lights.

Thursday’s “Light the Night” distributed bike lights in order to provide a safer and more legal ride at night for students. Illinois cyclists are required by law to ride with lights after sundown for safety.

The event was held Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in front of the Alma Mater and at the corner of Illinois Street and Lincoln Avenue.

It was hosted by the Campus Areas Transportation Study Education Subcommittee, which consists of representatives from the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, the city of Urbana, the city of Champaign and the University.

Jan Kijowski, marketing director for CUMTD, said the event was started by thinking about ways to improve safety for bicyclists.

“In 2008, (we thought) the provision of bike lights to bicyclists would be a great way to improve the visibility of bikes at night,” Kijowski said. “(It) also gives us an opportunity to dispense information about safety behaviors and laws about riding a bike at night.”

Kijowski added that the community representatives appreciate having this event on campus.

“It has been an enormous success,” Kijowski said. “There have been several thousands of lights distributed over the past four years. … It is great way to help novice bicyclists learn about safe behaviors and how to make themselves more visible at nighttime.”

Morgan Johnston, transportation and sustainability coordinator for the University, said it is important to raise awareness about properly riding a bike at night.

“This is becoming something that it is very helpful to spread our message: You are not legally allowed to ride your bike at night without a light in the front and a reflector at the back,” Johnston said.

At each site, there were 800 light sets for volunteers to install.

Marcin Zuberek, junior in LAS, said the bike light will turn his old bicycle into a vehicle he will enjoy pedaling at any time.

“It’s awesome,” Zuberek said. “That means that I am going to be safe at night. Because I spend longer hours at the research lab … I am really glad to be able to get some protection and safety.” The giveaway of bike lights was sponsored by The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, Champaign County Bikes, C-U Safe Routes to School Project and Planet Bike.