If you were to stand on a Portland street corner and count how many bicyclists had adequate front and rear lights, what do you think the percentage would be?
Thanks to BTA superstar volunteer Matteo Luccio, we now have an answer to that question. Matteo, frustrated with a perceived lack of bike light use on Portland’s streets, wanted to get the word out about the importance of bike light use. Not content to trust his instinct about the current rate of bicycle light use, he launched Portland’s first Bicycle Lights Use Survey. Over 50 volunteers counted bike lights at 33 locations around Portland on three weeknights between 6:30 and 8:30.
Here are the percentages for what they saw:
Note: These results measure our definition of “adequate,” not the legal definition. Adequate means “visible from one block away,” which is less than the legal standard. Furthermore, the law allows for a red rear reflector in place of a rear light but this survey did not count reflectors, only lights. “Other” refers to improperly colored lights.
Matteo’s full report on their findings can be found here: 2011 BIKE LIGHTS USE SURVEY RESULTS
In short, 9 in 10 bicyclists had front lights but 1 in each of those 9 were inadequate. That means that only 80% of Portland’s bicyclists had adequate front lights.
It’s a higher number than many of us had anticipated, but it’s still not good enough. If 1 in 5 motor vehicles didn’t have adequate headlights, we’d have a serious problem on our roads. Portland must work to close the gap in bike light use because it’s very difficult to share the road with people you can’t see.
The BTA is actively working to close the bike light use gap. Here’s a primer on how you, too, can help us to Close the Gap!