LACBC is proud to announce that we completed the fifth season of Operation Firefly this past winter, successfully growing the program by 20% over the last year. We did this despite weather conditions that Angelenos don’t see too often – rain.
Operation Firefly is a bike light distribution and education program of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). We organize groups of volunteers and dispatch them to undisclosed locations during the evening commute, where they distribute lights and safety information to people riding in the dark without lights. We survey all light recipients to collect data on why they are riding at night without lights and ensure bilingual Spanish speaking volunteers are at each distribution. Operation Firefly is one of the most popular programs among our volunteers, and it shows! The total volunteer hours for our on-street distributions this season was 645 hours! We owe the success of Operation Firefly to a large group of Team Firefly volunteers who came out night after night – thank you!
Despite the clouds and (much needed) rain, we completed 43 on-street distributions in ten different cities in Los Angeles County and reached over 3,000 people county-wide from November of 2016 to March of 2017. You can check out a map of all the locations and the partners who helped us here.
As in past years, we found that the majority of light recipients surveyed use their bike as their main form of transportation. The average age of the light recipients was 35, and 39% of the recipients were 40 or older. Most of the recipients knew some, but not all of the legal requirements when riding a bike at night, and 27% admitted they didn’t know what is required by law. This highlighted the need for the educational information we provide along with the lights. Check out all the survey results in our Operation Firefly info sheet here.
Once we give the lights to recipients and talk with them about how important they are, most riders tend to understand and express their change in perspective. A recipient named Rose told us, “I love my lights!! I don’t understand how I ever rode at night without them. I use them on my way home from class. I seriously appreciate them so much and am still grateful I ran into you guys that day! Thank you!” Other recipients, like Javier, tell us the lights are a life-saver. “I still have my lights and they’re working just like new. I had an accident before for not having lights, so they pretty much keep me alive. That’s why they’re so important to me.” Still others express the freedom and mobility that the lights give them at night. Geert told us, “I use my bike to get around in the neighborhood and I ride in the evening or at night. I would not do that without lights.”
This year we expanded our program continuing to work with partners that range from bicycle co-ops to organizations that work with homeless and vulnerable populations. The organizations we worked with included LAMP Village and the Weingart Foundation in Skid Row, the Bicycle Kitchen, the Bike Oven, Bici Libre, the Bikerowave, and the Ride On Bike Co-op in South Los Angeles. We also continued to partner with environmental justice and active transportation groups, and added new partners to further extend our reach. Once again, we partnered with East Yard Communities for Environment Justice and API Forward Movement (formerly APIOPA). New partners included East LA College, TRUST South LA, CICLE, and Day One, as well as past partners including Multicultural Communities for Mobility, Bike SGV, and Eastside Riders Bicycle Club. We are grateful to all of these groups for contributing to the success of Operation Firefly this year.
We want to give a big “thank you” to last winter’s season sponsor, AARP Los Angeles, as well as to SoCalGas and the City of Long Beach who were also big supporters. Additionally, we would like to thank LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and LA City Council Members Jose Huizar, Joe Buscaino, Mitch O’Farrell, Bob Blumenfield, and Nury Martinez for their continued support. Thanks to all the donors and volunteers who made Operation Firefly a success. We’re excited to relaunch the program again in November, so stay tuned! You can donate to Operation Firefly here and become a member of Team Firefly here.