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While the Chicago region’s population grew by 18 percent since 1980, the traffic increased by 66 percent in the same period.

Cyclists “Caught in the Act” Receive Free Headlights from Active Trans

Two hundred unsuspecting cyclists were surprised with free headlights Wednesday evening after being caught riding in the dark without proper lights. A group of Active Trans volunteers and staff gathered under cover of darkness at the intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen, where they stopped the cyclists and installed the free white headlights and rear red reflectors on their bikes. The surprise giveaway is aimed at making Chicago’s streets safer for all users following this week’s Daylight Saving Time change, which put more evening commuters on the streets after sundown.

More than 20 percent of all reported bike crashes in Illinois took place after dark last year. Lights are essential to staying visible and safe on a bicycle after dark. They are also the law — the City of Chicago requires cyclists riding at night to use a white headlight and rear red reflector. Bike crashes are more likely to occur with reduced visibility, and failure to use a light may also hinder legal action following a crash, even if the driver is otherwise at fault.

The giveaway was not announced to the public in advance in order to ensure that the free lights made it onto the bikes of cyclists most in need – those actually on the street in the dark without a light. Active Trans is grateful for generous funding for the lights from The Law Offices of James M. Freeman, P.C., and from more than 300 donors through Groupon's G-Team.

The photos are courtesy of Active Trans member, Steven Vance, who also blogged about the giveaway.