November 13, 2017
Get Lit installed over 1100 sets of lights on bicycles at various locations around Portland in 2005! The need still exists with more & more bicyclists on the streets everyday. Yea!
Excerpts from an Interview with Jeff Bernards Alice Award Winner for the Get Lit Program Interview conducted by William Ross, age 15, and a student at the Center for Appropriate Transport. Full interview published in Oregon Cycling.
What did you do to win an Alice award this year? We started a program in Portland called “Get Lit”. Its purpose is to bring lights out into the street to help people who can’t afford to buy lights, to create a safe biking situation in Portland, to cut down on the number of frustrated car drivers who don’t like cyclists without lights and to cut down on the number of accidents in Portland.
Where do you get the lights? The first set of lights we got was a grant from ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) that was for almost 5,000 dollars. We gave all the lights away and saw that the program was successful, but there was nothing going on with it until a friend of mine - Dat Nguyen - offered to give us a $500 matching grant if we could raise at least that much. We raised $900, so we ended up with $1,400 to buy more lights. About a third of our money comes from the people who actually get the lights. Everyone who gets a light really appreciates it and 99% of the time they make some kind of donation: $5, $10, $2… I had a homeless guy offer to give me his bottle return receipt. That’s how much he appreciated the light, but of course I didn’t take it!
Do you hear anything from car drivers about the program? When I set up on the street, I get people who don’t even own a bike - who just drive - tell me, “Oh, I’m so sick of cyclists without lights, here’s $20, go buy some more lights and keep up the good work!” So we get a good response from the auto community. The lights aren’t really for the cyclist, they’re for the cars. I can see pretty well riding around the streets of Portland, there are plenty of street lights. Really the lights are to be seen. We just want to cut down on the accidents. Also, we want the program to get people to see biking as a positive alternative to using your car to go everywhere. So we get more people who see biking as safe and they see more people doing it, and they think, “Wow, maybe I could get out of my car and join them, it looks like fun, and it looks safe.”
And Thanks for all you do to be seen! Stay alive out there.