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City Council, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to Hand out Bike Lights

Following Friday night efforts geared toward promoting safety, cyclists will take off for a Tour de Lights bike ride throughout the city that will end at Octane Coffee on the westside.

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond is partnering with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) to promote bicycle safety Friday evening by donating bicycle lights for the annual “Let’s Get Visible” initiative followed by a bicycle “Tour de Lights.” 

Bond and members of ABC will hold a news conference in Woodruff Park at 6 p.m. to promote the annual initiative.

Following the light distribution, cyclists will take off for Mobile Social’s Tour de Lights bike ride throughout the city, touring some of the best holiday light destinations in Atlanta. The ride will end at Octane Coffee on the westside.

Friday’s ride is part of ABC’s bimonthly Mobile Social, the organization’s largest group ride that takes place the second Friday of every month. The aim of these Mobile Socials is to recruit more people on bicycles, explore the city, and to support local businesses.

Bond, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, decided to donate 200 lights to ABC’s effort to ensure that all Atlanta area cyclists in need of a light have access to one. Bond will distribute the lights to ABC volunteers, who in turn will pass them along to cyclists they encounter in need during evening hours.

The city of Atlanta has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of residents choosing to cycle as a primary means of transportation as well as for recreation. With so many additional cyclists on the road, bicycle safety has become a chief concern. The fall and winter months only add to this concern as the evening commute occurs after the sun has set and many cyclists do not have the proper lighting.

“It is important to be visible on a bicycle at all times but especially at night. Our goal is to get safety lights to ‘utilitarian’ cyclists, like students and working people who depend on a bicycle as their primary mode of transport,” Bond said in a news release.

“Every year we give away over 500 bike lights and safety tip cards, to help create a culture of responsible riding. In order for cyclists and drivers to share the road safely and legally, both groups must respect traffic laws and each other, and this initiative gets our message out to those who most need to hear it,” ABC Executive Director Rebecca Serna, said in a statement.

As Bond noted, Georgia law requires a front white light and rear red light or reflector, but too many cyclists lack the proper lighting to be visible to drivers during winter months, when they are more likely to ride in dark conditions. While cycling is a safe activity that can add years to one’s life, being seen is key to avoiding a crash. This initiative focuses on distributing lights to those who would otherwise be riding in the dark without them, especially low-income riders and students.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety contributes to this project by funding ABC’s safety, education, and awareness raising activities.

The ABC is Atlanta’s largest and most effective bicycle advocacy nonprofit and its mission is to make it safer and easier to ride a bicycle in and around metro Atlanta. In October, the ABC and various bicycle transportation partners, including the Atlanta City Council, Midtown Alliance and the Georgia Institute of Technology, announced new Midtown initiatives to boost rider safety, sustainability and access.

Alterations to the 5th Street/West Peachtree Street intersection resulted in the city’s first raised bicycle track, green bicycle lane, two-stage left-turn box and bicycle signal at the intersection. The project, which enables cyclists to safely cross a busy intersection and be guided by a dedicated bicycle lane and traffic signal, was jointly funded by the Midtown Alliance, Bikes Belong Foundation and Georgia Tech, in cooperation with the City of Atlanta and ABC.

A new smartphone app was also unveiled in October. The iPhone and Android version of the app called Cycle Atlanta is available for download and designed specifically for City of Atlanta bicyclists to provide direct feedback to the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development transportation planning staff.

ABC is currently located in downtown Atlanta at 213 Mitchell Street, but due in part to recent building issues including a leak from the ceiling, ABC could be on the move soon.

Would you like to see ABC in Midtown? Take a moment to take the organization’s quick survey here and help the organization decide if they should stay in their current locale or shift elsewhere.

— Interim Council Communications Director Michael Tyler contributed to this report

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