- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita officials are considering a proposal to reduce penalties for people who ride bicycles at night without headlights, and the city plans to give away hundreds of free lights to riders who need them.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board recommended last week that riding without a light be treated as an equipment violation instead of a moving violation. If the City Council approves, violators would receive a “fix-it” ticket and could avoid a fine by putting a light on their bike and getting a police officer to sign off — a process routinely used for correcting vehicle violations such as a burned out headlight or tail light.

The City Council likely won’t even need to change an ordinance, and can handle the change through a policy directive to the city administration, according to city attorney Jennifer Magana.

Riding without a light at night currently is listed in the city code as a $20 fine, but the fine comes with $67 in add-on costs, bringing the total fine to $87, The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1MumDUP ) reported.

Russell Fox, a bicycle enthusiast and professor at Friends University, recently joined the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. He said he voted for the fix-it ticket recommendation because it would help get bikers to ride more safely, and help motorists see bikers and accept them as a normal part of the traffic pattern.

“The (fix-it) ticket is obliging you to spend money on your own safety . and something that’s contributing to overall safety on the road,” Fox said.

Scott Wadle, a senior planner who oversees bike and pedestrian matters in Wichita, recently received 1,200 bike headlights, 400 bells, 66 reflector sets and 685 bike-safety pamphlets and guides through a $2,000 safety grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

A plan for distributing the safety equipment will go before the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board in the next few weeks, he said.

About 140 bikers were cited for headlight violations last year.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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