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Let there be light: a bit of instruction for California bicyclists

Although an adult bicyclist profiled recently in a Los Angeles Times article had things kind of backwards regarding California bike-related safety laws, he is fully schooled now and was likely far from being alone concerning his prior misunderstanding.

What he thought to be true was this: state law requires all bicyclists to wear helmets.

Actually, it doesn't; adult riders (18 and over) are exempt from that requirement.

And he was also, well, in the dark regarding state law addressing lights and reflectors for bikes. He had no idea that they are mandated on all bikes for all riders.

That latter imposition makes sense, he says, although he adds that, "I just never thought to get any."

He has them now, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, which has local units out on municipal streets at certain times each year providing bikers with a double dose of safety-related education and bicycle lights.

Operation Firefly is just about ready to conclude for this year, with the initiative running annually from November through March.

Quick question: Is it necessary?

Federal safety-related statistics strongly suggest that it is. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 740 riders were killed on streets and roadways across the country in a recent year.

And California was at the very top of a list relevant to that year that no state wants to be cited in, namely, the state with the most bike fatalities. In 2013, a reported 141 bicyclists in the state died in traffic accidents.

That dire statistic should turn the lights on, both figuratively and literally, for every California bicyclist.

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