In May 2012 local cycling advocacy group Think Bicycles of Johnson Co. devised the Light the Night partnership to encourage all cyclists to start using lights on their bicycles at night. Think Bicycles recruited University of Iowa Public Safety and the Iowa City Police Department as partners in their effort.
Under program, cyclists who receive a citation for failing to equip their bike with a front white light and/or rear red reflector/light, now have the choice to participate in Light the Night. When a police offer tickets a cyclist for riding at night without lights they are given a choice. The cyclist can pay the 93.75-dollar fine, or they may elect to buy and install bike lights.
Results of a 2012 Iowa City Bike Master Plan online survey reveal that cyclists’ main concern is law enforcement. Of the 306 people who took the survey, 112 of them said that enforcing headlight/reflector laws during non-daylight hours was most the important.
“I’m a cyclist and driver,” comments Martha Norbeck, local bike advocate and Think Bicycles member. “It’s simple, lights allow you to see and be seen by motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists. We want to foster a positive bike culture where people can ride, walk and drive with safety and confidence.” In addition to being highly visible, lights are required by law.
To date the Iowa City Police have written 31 citations, while the University of Iowa Public Safety has not written a single ticket. Twenty-eight bicyclists cited by ICPD elected to participate in the Light the Night Program, thus having their $93.75 fine waived.
“It’s unsafe for cyclist not to have lights. We don’t allow cars to not have lights. It’s not like you have to pay the ticket anyway. It’s a safe win-win situation.” Said Mark Pooley, President of the University of Iowa Bicycle Advisory Committee.