Operation Firefly in Glendale

Jenny Morataya, 22, of Walk Bike Glendale and the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, talks with Roberto Ruiz, of Glendale. She and a team of volunteers stopped to talk with him about bicycle safety on the corner of California Avenue and Brand Boulevard in Glendale as part of Operation Firefly, photographed on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Volunteers with Operation Firefly, flagged down passing bicyclists who didn't have front and rear lights, to interview them and give them the free safety equipment. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / March 4, 2014)

More than a dozen bicyclists riding without required lights were stopped this week in downtown Glendale and gifted a set of lights during a traffic safety operation.

The light donation was part of Operation Firefly, an effort carried out by Walk Bike Glendale on Tuesday to ensure cyclists were riding safely at night, group member Nathalie Winiarski said.

Nearly all cyclists who rode past Winiarski and a group of volunteers at the intersection of California Avenue and Brand Boulevard didn't have lights, even though they knew lights were required.

"It's a huge concern and it's avoidable," she said.

Cyclists in California are required to ride a bicycle with white front lights and side, pedal and back reflectors.

Cyclists stopped during the operation also took a survey, which showed most of them didn't have working batteries for their lights or had forgotten to place the lights on their bicycles at all, Winiarski said.

The cyclists were "very appreciative, happy and excited" about getting new lights, which were made possible through a donation from Glendale resident Gene Gleeson, a former ABC7 reporter and avid cyclist, and his wife, Traute, she said.

Tuesday's effort was the first campaign of-its-kind for the traffic safety group, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, which launched Operation Firefly in November 2012.

Walk Bike Glendale plans to host similar operations this year in an effort to increase awareness among cyclists and pedestrians about "the need to be seen," Winiarski said.

Traffic safety, she said, "is something that really needs to be addressed with the city because this is a great city."

Anyone interested in making a donation to purchase bicycle lights for future operations in the city is asked to call Colin Bogart, the coalition's education director, at (213) 629-2142. Donations should be made to the coalition in behalf of Walk Bike Glendale.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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