Lights of Life

Bike lights
Bike Lights!

Hi everyone,

Recently I brought up an idea on social media to get bike lights on the bicycles of everyone in Ontario. I’ve witnessed far too many people riding in the dark with no lights, that I am concerned truly for their safety. Turns out this isn’t a new idea! The Toronto Cyclists Union apparently already does this locally. However, there doesn’t seem to be a regional initiative to get this done. I propose Waterloo Bikes takes the lead on this, and I believe Graham has already given a blessing on this to put the Waterloo Bikes name on it.

I have already contacted Melissa Durrell, a City of Waterloo Councillor who has shown interest in assisting. I think this needs to be a fairly easy initiative to get off the ground. I’ll be contacting local bike shops to consider donations towards this cause. We don’t need fancy expensive lights, but a basic battery powered one white and one red would work.  I know MEC has some good but cheap ones too! Once we have a good amount to give out, we can simply put the information out there via social media and perhaps traditional media (via our friend Bill Bean at the Record perhaps) and start giving them away! I am happy to be a distributor in Kitchener and at the University of Waterloo. Perhaps others would assist in their own places in Waterloo and Cambridge and other areas to assist in getting these out there. Additionally, I am considering stopping people on bikes with no lights and pulling them out of a bag to give to them on the spot!

Anyone else have suggestions on how to go about getting a ton of lights to give out and getting them out there?

21 thoughts on “Lights of Life

  1. Hey Brendan … Do you think someone at capacity waterloo could help us get this off the ground? We’ll need some kind of financial entity accept donations. Nesbitt mentioned a name to me who may be able to help.

  2. Next year we can easily apply for the KW Community Foundation, but you are right. we need to become a registered charitable org before we can take in money. However, we can easily accept donation of actual product ahead of that to give away. i’ll ask Nesbitt about charitable status!

  3. You beat me to the punch Brendan. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but wasn’t sure how to get started (how to correctly accept donations and such).

    I hope I can help in some way.

  4. Recycle Cycles might be willing to get involved, and I imagine the already have charitable status.

  5. Had a great conversation with two gents I know from around the Hub today. They are both very well known in the community, one particularly for cycling. They are both going to chat with some people they know to see how they can help. Hopefully we can get a large local cycle shop on board with this and get a huge amount donated. Then all we have to do is put them in designated spots and give them out! I’m thinking UW bike shop, etc.. Once we have the merch, we can approach some strategic places to get these distributed. UW/WLU students are high on my priority list as I see so many of them with no lights.

    1. I volunteer at the Bike Centre. I’ll see what I can do about getting lights distributed there.

  6. I talked with the folks at King Street cycle and they said they’d definitely be interested but like Melissa Durell they need a budget and a plan. King Street said they would be willing to contact their suppliers to cut a deal.

    I can also chat with Brent Ellis from the Waterloo Cycle Club as he’s a neighbour. Anyone want to talk to McPhails or Brauns.

    If someone can talk to Recycle Cycle’s about using their charitable status (or about partnering) then we can use theirs.

    Brendan should meet at the tannery’s watering hole to discuss this further?

  7. A planning session would be great. A bit swamped next week, so how about Dec 1st, 5:30pm at the Firkin at the Tannery? Who’s in?

  8. Hey, you can get decent lights from the dollar store, they make a 5 white LED front that is really good. They were 1.49 I think and I used one for a while… the 3 LED rear blinky they sell is decent too… KW surplus has the same kind but they sell them for more than dollar stores do. They also sell reflective vests for 5 or 6$

    I also know that one can order generic lights that look made in the same factory as the MEC planet bike ones, I bought a 3 watt one that retails for 10 or 20, I can’t remember. I bought them from a supplier, babac (

    Bill Bean also gave out a bunch of lights a while ago and had a few people refuse them so it would definitely be worth checking his archives for that post and he likely would have a few tips.

    For the money I think the dollar store lights are more than adequate for city riding and the prices can’t be beat. They do need batteries but buying in bulk can get make it cheaper.

  9. 1. Should “required” equipment be installed at the point of sale, instead of privately fund-raised? No one must to drive a motor vehicle after dark, yet they all come with lights. Bicycles should at least satisfy the reflective tape requirement on the showroom floor, and preferably be sold only with some type of lights (let the buyer choose: dollar store, MEC, or a flashlight/velcro solution such as TwoFish.

    (Tangent thought: Daytime running lights should turn on fully becoming regular lights – front and rear – according to ambient lighting.)

    2. In 2011, Bill Bean was hot on Nite Ize lights. (That search link should return all posts in which the ‘ize’ part of the name was typed.)

    3. My limited experience is that I am noticed/respected on the road equally with each of a daylight-visible rear light and a neon vest having reflective stripes. In combination, sunglasses are probably in order.

    (Yet, a cycling friend ponders at my using/wearing $100+ of safety equipment. I like the flashlight-as-headlight idea and vests are $5-10, and inexpensive helmets begin near $20, so a low-cost approach must be possible.)

  10. Straight from their website

    The Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is given upfront in a paper bag full of cash by a group of twelve trustees, who form autonomous chapters around geographic areas or topics of interest.

    Applications for our January Pitch night are due at the end of December.

    So anyone heading to the Firkin, come and meet me there for 5:30-6pm on Thursday. Let’s start working on the pitch!

  11. That’s awesome! Great idea. I’m not a cyclist but equally concerned about the safety of those who are on the road, especially at night.

  12. Perhaps you could partner with a major national outdoor sports firm to supply some (mountain equipment co-op) plus they provide an online discount for those who sign up your lights program…if locals in your area need cycling gear, etc.

    Think about this serious….and for them, they would want to expand their online/national reach..beyond major CAnadian cities where their stores are.

    I know MEC sponsors bike event at least once per yr. in the cities where their stores are located..

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