When students returned to their bikes Thursday, they found them to be just a little bit safer than when they left them.
On Thursday afternoon, two concerned citizens and avid cyclists, Harry Oussoren and Bob Bell arrived to the University of Guelph campus to install 500 LED lights right onto student bikes for free.
“A lot of students seem to cycle at night and they don’t have any lights on,” said Harry Oussoren, president of Insitu Contractors, who was handing out lights with Bell, CEO of WIKE Bicycle Company.
“We’re kind of worried about hitting them.”
Each cycle was given two LED lights that included a white light for the front of the bike and a red one for the back. The duo went around the entire campus installing the lights on 250 bikes.
Along with the easy to install and easy to remove lights, was a note that read “You’ve been Lit! Your Bicycle now has lights. Courtesy of Insitu Contractors and Wike.”
“We can do a complete bike in about 30 seconds. So to do a few hundred bikes – usually there's three or four of us –it's an hour and a half to two hours for 300, 400 bikes,” said Bell.
Oussoren said the team makes sure to get clearance from campus police before they begin handing out lights.
“We asked them to be around just so that if the students have any questions about what we're doing, there's no concern,” said Oussoren.
Bell and Oussoren began the initiative five years ago when they heard several complaints from people around town regarding students riding their bikes at nights without lights.
“Rather than listening to other people complain about students riding around town without lights. We thought okay, we'll just put lights on all the students' bikes,” said Bell.
Since they first started in 2016, the duo has handed out nearly 4,000 lights.
“We did it every year until COVID and then there were no bikes here.”
Bell said it’s better to put the lights on the bikes rather than hand them out to the students.
“There's no sense just handing out lights to a kid because then they’ll go home and they’ll sit them on top of a fridge and they’ll forget about it,” said Bell.
Engineering student Brona Mayne was pleasantly surprised when she returned to the bike shelter to see her bike newly equipped with lights.
“I'm pretty stoked,” said Brona Mayne.
“I knew I needed one because obviously you should have lights but I never got around to buying it.”
Oussoren said students are generally very appreciative of the lights.
The duo said the small but powerful lights can last a couple of years if they are turned off after use.
Bell added the need for lights especially because of the increasing number of cyclists in recent years.
“I bet you there’s four times as many people cycling now as when the pandemic started,” said Bell.
He said young people are realizing that the solution to climate change is something they can do.
“Riding a bicycle is something that they can do,” said Bell.