Boyle Heights Residents Get Gift of Bike Lights

Volunteers and organizers of Operation Firefly, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition bike light distribution program, made their sixth stop last night. This time they visited Boyle Heights, specifically the corner of Soto and First Streets, waving down passing cyclists without lights.

Volunteers gave out 40 sets of lights in little more than an hour, and after yesterday more than 350 lights have been given away since the program started in November.

“My hope is that we are not only giving out lights, but the information we are trying to convey gets conveyed and people understand that no, you are supposed to have (lights). It’s important to be visible because if you’re not you are in great risk of getting hit,” said Colin Bogart, LACBC education director.

Cyclists’ reasons for not having lights ranged from not knowing it was illegal to have ride without bike lights, to not being able to afford them. Digna Hernandez, 50-year-old Boyle Heights resident, said that since she’s had her bike lights stolen multiple times, she started purchasing lights from the 99 cents store.

“I don’t buy them expensive anymore because it’s not worth it,” Hernandez said.

LACBC’s former City of Lights program did the same light distribution in previous years through grant support. Unlike its predecessor, Operation Firefly is funded directly through LACBC’s budget, said Bogart.

The program has made stops in MacArthur Park, Downtown L.A., and Watts. In two weeks, the program will make a stop in South Los Angeles, yet the location is being kept under wraps.

“We keep (the location) secret so we can guarantee that the folks who really need the lights are the ones who get them,” said Martin Lopez-Lu, LACBC volunteer coordinator.

The program has 120 light sets left, which is roughly three more giveaways. By purchasing a $20 set of LACBC bike lights, LACBC can give another set to someone else through Operation Firefly.

For more information on Operation Firefly, and how to donate, click here.