Operation Firefly: Giving Out Lights for Ten Nights in Long Beach

Late in the night between Saturday and Sunday, daylight savings time began. While this mark on the lunar calendar serves as an unofficial start of Spring for many, for a team of volunteers with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), it marks the end of Operation Firefly.

For half a decade, Operation Firefly has been one of the most popular program offered by the LACBC. When the clocks fall back in the fall, a group of people who bike gather and literally just give out bike lights to other commuters on bicycle. It’s a simple way to reach out and help someone.

This year, the City of Long Beach worked with LACBC to sponsor ten light handouts, including a “marathon” six events in the past two weeks. Throughout the county, LACBC handed out roughly two thousand lights during this season.

“This is a really great program that we really enjoy doing it,” says Colin Bogart, who has staffed Operation Firefly for the LACBC. “We get nothing but positive response from everyone involved with it.”

Operation Firefly serves as a gateway for pretty much everyone involved. For volunteers, its often the first volunteer experience with LACBC. For the city and LACBC, it’s a good way to work together on a small project to begin building trust. And for those receiving the lights…well, who doesn’t like getting something for free, especially if it helps make people’s lives safer?

The city didn’t just offer fiscal support for the program, but it also helped staff events. At least one person from city staff, including mobility coordinator Nate Baird who served as Bogart’s point of contact, came out to the events. The volunteer list also included Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal.

“Quite a number of Long Beach residents rely on bikes for work, recreation and social gatherings in the evening, especially in parking impacted communities, so I wanted to reinforce the message that lights on our bikes reduce accidents with vehicles and pedestrians,” writes Lowenthal.

“A few experienced bikers who passed our station had lights already, but the casual riders were unaware of the law and appreciative of our efforts to keep them safe.”

Operation Firefly will return with the early dark, next November. Contributions to Operation Firefly also include the Laemmle Charitable Foundation and the thousands of donors and members of the LACBC.

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