Random Acts of Bike Safety
Get Lit is a Community Cycling Center program that practices random acts of safety. Founded by Jeff Bernards in 2003, the Get Lit program works to give lights to cyclists who ride without them. We stake out an event or neighborhood at dusk and wait for unsuspecting, unlit cyclists to pass by. Recipients receive Planet Bike front and rear lights, full installation, and education about visibility â€” all for free!
We recently sat down in an email interview with Get Lit sponsors Kristin Lensen and David Whitaker to discuss bike safety challenges, staying visible, and why cycling is important to them.
CCC: Why is bike safety an issue that is important to you?
Kristin & Dave: Because we value our good health and donâ€™t want to get hit by a car! We also want to see a lot more people riding their bikes and there is the perception among many folks out there that biking is unsafe when you are riding amongst traffic. It is important to us that there are safe routes for kids to ride to school and to ride in their own neighborhoods because the more kids that start riding now, the more that their parents will be encouraged to ride and drive more safely in our neighborhoods.
CCC: Have you always been cyclists? How (and where) did you get started?
Kristin: I started bike commuting about 10 years ago. I had moved in from Oregon City to NE Portland and worked in the Lloyd District. Dave, my then boyfriend, already was a bike commuter and encouraged me to give it a try. At the time, we both worked for the same employer so it was a way for us to spend time together. I started by riding my sonâ€™s old bike, Flame, and then Dave bought me Blue Bell, my current bike (complete with a little squeaker cow horn, happy face tire stem covers). Blue Bell and I have ridden 7500+ miles together.
Dave: I cycled to high school occasionally back in the late 70â€™s and then biked around Corvallis when I was attending Oregon State. My first big purchase after I graduated in 1985 was a Specialized Rockhopper (Ghost) that I still commute to work on to this day. Biking is a great way for Kristin and I to spend time together and to really appreciate the neighborhoods that we bike in.
CCC: Why were you compelled to get involved and support the Get Lit program?
Kristin & Dave: We want to encourage people to incorporate biking into their everyday livesâ€”children and adults; and to do that year round in Portland. Being adequately lit up is crucial to people staying safe, especially in the dark, wet winter months.
CCC: What are some of the safety challenges you encounter while riding? What are your strategies to stay safe?
Kristin & Dave:
- Biking north and south on busier streets that donâ€™t have bike lanes (NE 28th Avenue).
- Drivers switching lanes, pulling out from side streets and pulling out from parallel parking spots and not registering that we are there.
- Car doors opening when riding by.
- Drivers not providing adequate space when passing.
Strategies to stay safe:
- Act like a car when driving downtown and ride in the middle of the lane.
- Wear bright clothing.
- Make eye contact with people that are trying to turn onto the street that you are biking on.
- Lights, lights and more flashing lights. We have flashing red lights on the bike, backpack and helmet and have a flashing white light upfront.
- Avoid high traffic streets when possible or when not in a hurry to get somewhere.
CCC: Whatâ€™s your number one tip â€“ safety or otherwise â€“ for beginning cyclists?
Kristin & Dave: BE PREDICTABLE â€“ Make it easy for drivers and other bikers to know what your next move will be.
Thank you, Kristin and Dave, for your generous support and all you do to to make the streets of Portland a safer place for cyclists!