As sunset comes earlier at night during the winter, typically there’s an increase in citizen/police contact for bicyclists riding without proper lighting. In the past, breaking Mesa City Code 10-1-16 for not having a front bike light emitting a white light visible from 500 feet away would likely result in a warning or a citation from police officers.
Now, thanks to a new pilot program in collaboration with the Mesa Police Department and Mesa Transportation Department’s Bike and Pedestrian Program, riders may be receiving free bike lights and education.
A traditional policing approach to enforcing this city code and to promote public safety is to issue citations to those who are in violation. This encourages riders to avoid a citation by complying with the city code which in turn promotes their safety on the bike. The program offers a new tool in the officer’s approach to bicycle light violations by providing education and outreach to the citizen while simultaneously promoting safety.
“We encourage all of our officers to utilize education, warnings, and enforcement to prevent or minimize crime within the community. Officers are encouraged to use their discretion when deciding whether education or enforcement is the most appropriate tool for the situation,” Mesa Police Department Media Relations Detective Nik Rasheta said.
Providing officers with bike light kits, created by the Mesa Bike and Pedestrian Program, allows them to use the kits as a tool for education when their discretion leads them toward that decision.
“We worked with Mesa Police to find an opportunity to reach bikers who are actively biking around the city and are obviously in need of the proper safety gear to ride safely and within code,” Mesa Transportation Department Safety educator Ashley Barinka said.
So far, public response to the pilot program has been positive and more than 50 lights have been distributed in the first four weeks of the program.