Operation Firefly

October 30, 2013

Operation Firefly

“Operation Firefly” (Operacíon Luciérnaga) is an education and bike light distribution program intended to make sure people riding bikes in Los Angeles are riding safely at night.  In California, front white lights with side, back, and pedal reflectors are required by law at night (CVC21201). More importantly, riding without lights and reflectors is dangerous.  Our goal is to seek out people riding without lights for various reasons, especially riders who may not have the means or time to acquire lights on their own.


How does it work?

LACBC organizes groups of volunteers to meet for “street distributions” at undisclosed locations throughout Los Angeles where night-time bicycle ridership is expected to be high. The volunteers stop people who are riding bikes without lights in order to give them front and rear lights along with an information “spoke card” that explains the law for riding at night as well as tips they should know for night-time safety. The spoke cards are printed in English and Spanish and our “Team Firefly” volunteers always include at least a few people who speak Spanish (as well as female members to encourage female riders to stop).

Due to supply constraints in the 2012-2013 season, we limited each street distribution to 40 light sets or two hours, whichever came first.  We always ran out of lights first. In some cases, demand was so hight that our volunteers gave away all the lights in less than an hour!

In addition to street distributions, we also provided lights at special events and through multiple bicycle co-ops in Los Angeles: Bici Libre, the Bicycle Kitchen, the Bike Oven, the Bikerowave, and the Valley Bikery.


Operation Firefly 2012-2013 Winter Season

LACBC launched Operation Firefly right after the time-change in November 2012 and continued the program through the winter to the next time-change in March 2013.  During our 2012-2013 season, we distributed light sets to more than 500 people. Light recipients were also asked to complete a short survey to help us understand who we were serving. Of the people we surveyed, we learned that:

  • The youngest rider was 12 years old and the oldest rider was 70.
  • 29% cited Spanish as their primary language, 50% cited English as their primary language.
  • 22% said they didn’t know that lights were required when riding at night.
  • 20% had previously been in a collision while riding at night.
  • Of those who had been in a night-time collision, 51% said they were riding without a light.

Anecdotally, the reasons given for why the recipients were riding without lights varied. Some cited broken lights, others said their lights had been stolen or that they didn’t normally ride at night. Some told us that they didn’t think it was that important to ride with lights (until our volunteers explained it to them).

Team Firefly's Goal for 2013-2014: Serve more than twice as many people in 2013-2014

This winter, we would like Operation Firefly to serve more than twice as many people as we did last year. We want to give 100 light sets at each street distribution and to continue providing lights through bicycle co-ops and at special events. 

Help us reach our goal to provide lights to over 1,000 people on bikes in 2013-2014 by sponsoring Operation Firefly!  You can sponsor an intersection, support a single street distribution, or an entire month of street distributions. Sponsorship covers program costs such as materials, outreach, administration and staff.

We need your support to help make Operation Firefly bigger and better, so we can reach even more nighttime bike riders. Below are some fun levels at which you can join Team Firefly. And volunteers are always welcome!

  • Buy a set, give a set - $25
  • Give 5 light sets - $50
  • Give 10 light sets - $100
  • Give 25 light sets - $250
  • Co-Sponsor an intersection - $500
  • Single street distribution in your community - $1,000
  • One month sponsorship - $4,000

Total estimate for 2013-2014 Operation Firefly season - $16,000

To make a donation, contact Colin Bogart, LACBC Education Director, 213.629.2142 x114 colin@la-bike.org. Or use the following links below:


Buy a set, give a set for $25! Orders must be placed by December 16 for Christmas delivery.

Make a donation to Operation Firefly!