Philly investing in light touch to help reduce bicycling accidents

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 A typical Philadelphia bike share bicycle on display at 30th Street Station Thursday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A typical Philadelphia bike share bicycle on display at 30th Street Station Thursday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In this season of lights, one kind could save your life.

Bike lights are known to reduce accidents, and Philly will have a lot more of them this spring when the Philadelphia Bike Share launches. That’s because the Bike Share fleet will feature running lights that are powered by the rider’s pedaling.

Though lights may sound like a small addition, a 2013 Danish study found they reduce  bicycle accidents by 19 percent. The effect is even greater when it comes to multi-party wrecks.

Pennsylvania law already requires bikers use lights during the night, but Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said Americans have a cultural blindspot when it comes to bike lights.

“We have a real failure in this country to adequately light up people on bikes,” Doty said. “We focus on helmets, and we don’t focus on the lights. And the lights are a really important part of preventing crashes.”

Doty said lights are particularly critical in the winter, when daylight is scarce.

He’s hopeful that Philadelphia Bike Share, when implemented, will help riders recognize the importance of lights — and their usefulness in preventing crashes.

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