LACBC volunteer Fernando Garcia helps a Spanish-speaking bicyclist understand the laws of nighttime riding. Photos by Brian Addison.
It’s a law that many bicyclists don’t know: CVC21201, which requires front white lights with side, back, and pedal reflectors for night riding.
Enter Operation Firefly (or for our Spanish riders, Operacíon Luciérnaga), an effort driven by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) in order to hand out free lights to, and educate, bicyclists in undisclosed, marginalized neighborhoods throughout the county. Last night, through the direct funding efforts of mayoral candidate and current Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, the LACBC set up shop at Long Beach Boulevard and Anaheim.
“We want to avoid a free-for-all—hence why we keep the location and time a secret,” said Colin Bogart, Education Director at LACBC. “This way we can provide lights to people who need them, not people who simply want them.”
Gathering at the southwest and northeast corners of the aforementioned intersection, LACBC organizers—including Boardmember April Economides and volunteer Evan Kelly, both Long Beach residents—directed the continual flow bicycle traffic toward free lights.
“Last night we distributed 100 bike light sets in less than an hour and a half at Long Beach and Anaheim, one of my favorite intersections in the city,” said Economides. “It's very diverse: it's where the Cambodian, Latino and African-American communities tend to intersect the most… It was incredibly rewarding to help out people of all ages who use a bike for their primary mode of transport, whether to get to work or run errands."
The intersection, just west of the heart of central Long Beach, is a transit hub; with the Anaheim Blue Line Station, bicyclists and pedestrians use it as a main connector to Los Angeles.
"I'm proud to partner with the LA County Bike Coalition on this important project," said Garcia. "We need to ensure that bike riders are riding safely at night and that they have the appropriate lights. It's especially important to reach out to low income communities who may not have the resources to buy the appropriate lights. For many of these riders, their bike is the only way they can get to work."
In addition to Long Beach, Operation Firefly will take place in Highland and South LA—and if it has the same effect that the event in Long Beach had, bicyclists will be happy.
“I’d like to see this happen in every Long Beach council district every year,” Economides said. “Councilmembers, please contact me!”