ELKHART — For some, there is a necessity to riding bicycles at night, but there is very little reason to do it without lights in Elkhart.
Bike Elkhart and two bike shops have been coordinating efforts to distribute free headlights and taillights available to anyone who needs to be bicycling around at night and can’t afford the cost.
Bike Elkhart acquired about 750 sets a year ago. The group used a grant from Bicycle Indiana and private local donations, said Danny Graber, president of Bike Elkhart.
He estimates the group has distributed about 300 sets.
Graber credits Steve Peterson, owner of Elkhart Bicycle Shop, for organizing the effort.
Talk of the free program surfaced in public meetings during the debate and passage of the 3-foot buffer rule for motorists. Advocates are now trying to get the word out that motorists need to provide cyclists 3 feet of space when passing them on city streets.
Free sets of headlights and taillights are available at Elkhart Bicycle Shop, 401 E. Jackson Blvd., and Pedal Power, a community-based bike shop at 1320 Prairie St.
Those receiving the lights are asked to sign a waiver form that releases Bike Elkhart from any liability.
A lack of lights and wearing dark clothes enhance the chances of an accident after dark. More than 10 percent of the 91 accidents that happened in a recent four-year period occurred between sunset and sunrise.