The University of Wisconsin Police Department worked in association with Safe Communities last night to stop bicyclists without bicycle lights in an effort to promote campus safety.
As part of the Be Bright Initiative on campus, UWPD officer Kristen Radtke said officers stopped those who lack lights on the front or back of their bicycles. They also installed lights on the bikes free of charge.
According to Radtke, the university has purchased 50 sets of bicycle lights for the event, paid for by a grant from the Dane County Bike Association.
The event will continue next week, during which another set of 50 lights will be installed on stopped bicycles.
The initiative hopes to reach out to students and educate them on the dangers of riding at night without a light, Radtke said.
“Students may not know they need lights, or may not be able to afford them,” Radtke said.
Radtke added while students are the focus of the initiative, UWPD will stop any bicycle without lights while the event is taking place.
Robbie Webber, a volunteer for the Be Bright campaign, said students often do not know it is illegal to ride a bicycle without lights at nighttime.
Students can receive a $125 ticket, Webber said, if they do not adhere to the law by having a light on the front and back of their bicycle.
Wisconsin law does not require the back of a bicycle to have a light, provided that there is a reflector present. The front, however, must have a light, Webber said.
“The law says that from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, bicycles are required to have their lights on,” Webber said.
Radtke said the front light must be visible beyond 500 feet, while the back light or reflector must be visible between 50 to 500 feet away.
Webber added bicyclists without lights cannot be seen by drivers when it is nighttime.
“It freaks me out to see bicyclists without lights, because they are invisible,” Webber said.
The location of the Be Bright event was kept confidential to keep bicyclists from avoiding the campaign.
It will, however, take place on campus, said Radtke.
According to Webber, the Be Bright initiative is not about fining people, but rather it is about educating them.
“This is a chance to take a lesson, not a ticket,” Webber said.