Walk Bike Glendale volunteers provide a safety boost to cycling commuters

Nathalie Winiarski stood at a Glendale intersection Thursday evening with red and white bike lights, as well as reflective bands, in hand.

Along with her fellow volunteers from Walk Bike Glendale, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Winiarski hoped to catch commuters cycling home from work to educate them about roadway rules and hand out bike lights.

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"We got free stuff to give away," she called out to one cyclist, who pointed to his headphones and continued biking. Legally, she said, cyclists are only allowed to keep a bud in one ear. "It's really dangerous – if they can't hear me, they can't hear their environment."

Five joggers ran past shortly after, each of them snagging reflective bands to use when exercising outside at night.

"This is fantastic," said jogger Angela Jay, who was training for a triathlon with her co-workers. "Safety is such a big deal."

During the nearly two-hour operation, volunteers distributed 15 sets of red and white bike lights, as well as numerous reflective bands purchased by the city, to pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection of Flower Street and Sonora Avenue.

Volunteers handed out brochures with safety tips, like how to fix a flat tire and stay visible on the road.

While cyclists are required to use a white front light at night, along with rear, side and pedal reflectors, Winiarski recommended that bikers wear reflective vests, white or light-colored clothes, and extra lights.

"I've never had lights on my bicycle before," said passerby Matthew Popp, 44, who, along with 13 others, was surveyed on his cycling habits and knowledge of roadway laws. "I was careless and irresponsible — I'm going to do all the things I learned tonight."

The organization held a similar light distribution event two years ago, and this time around, Winiarski noticed that more cyclists were already equipped with bike lights.

"It's all about being seen," she said.

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Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek

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