Saturday Event Promotes Bicycle Safety, Lighting

Lakeland bicyclists and families will gather Saturday at First Presbyterian Church on Lake Hollingsworth for the second annual Light the Lake and Bike Rodeo, an event to raise awareness about safe bicycling, which includes being visible to drivers.

The 4 to 8 p.m. event is organized by Bicycling in Lakeland, a 501c3 non-profit organization formed in 2013 with the goal of making Lakeland safe for bicycling.

“We have sponsored talks to inform bicyclists what to do if they are hit while riding, how-to-clinics on commuting on bicycle, simple bicycle maintenance, social rides and yoga for cyclists,” said Mary Crowe, a founder of the organization and Florida Southern College Associate Provost of Experiential Education.

Last year’s event:

Crowe explains that the Saturday event is geared toward anyone who rides a bicycle for transportation or just for fun. She says Polk county is ranked among the top six counties in Florida for cyclists being injured or killed, even though the population density is much lower than other areas in Florida. She hopes Bicycling in Lakeland and awareness events will help change this.

At last year’s Light the Lake event, the group just distributed lighting and high-visibility gear. This year, Crowe hopes the event will bring in more families as they paired it with a bicycle safety rodeo for kids. There will be scavenger hunts by bicycle and other competitions as well as food trucks and bicycle-related gifts.

“We often hear about bicyclists being hard to be seen, especially at night, wearing dark clothing. We are giving away lights, reflective vests, helmets and other goodies so that anyone who wants these types of safety measures has access to them,” Crowe said.

In addition, Lakeland has been re-certified as a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community, according to Rick Perez from the city of Lakeland, .

Crowe is also working with Polk Vision to put together a working group focusing on pedbike (pedestrian and bicycle) safety. She works as a co-chairwoman to look at enforcement, engineering and education as ways to decrease the number of pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths in Polk County.

Flickr Creative Commons lighted bicycle photo courtesy of Daniel Oines