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Weds. night means free bike lights & kids' helmets at Santa Rita Park

Have you ever been driving at night when all of a sudden a dark figure pops up in the beams of your headlights? Have you ever had to bike home later than planned and realized that you are not very visible?

Tucson has recently been designated a Pedestrian Safety Focus City by the Federal Highway Administration. Over five years, a one-mile stretch of 22nd Street has a record of 25 car to pedestrian or bicyclist crashes. Now the Living Streets Alliance is working to prevent these accidents.

Volunteers from the Alliance will be at the west end of Santa Rita Park starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to hand out lights for cyclists and pedestrians. They also will have free bike helmets for youth under 18. The event will run until all supplies are gone.

Cyclists and pedestrians will receive a light set, including a front and rear bike light. Pedestrians are encouraged to attach the lights to backpacks or clothing to make themselves more visible to car drivers.

The mission of the Alliance is to "promote healthy communities by empowering people to transform our streets into vibrant places for walking, bicycling, socializing, and play." 

Volunteers at this Light the Night event hope to provide adequate lighting and safety equipment for those that might not otherwise be able to afford it. The one-mile stretch on 22nd Street, from Osborne Avenue to the Union Pacific Railroad Nogales Branch tracks lies in one of Tucson's lowest income neighborhoods.

Of the 25 accidents reported on that stretch of road in the last five years, six were fatal.

The area was designated as a Pedestrian Safety Corridor by the Tucson Department of Transportation last week. The designation requires Tucson to emphasize pedestrian safety and to develop strategies to decrease the pedestrian crash rate. 

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The stretch of road will soon receive warning signs, flashing beacons, a HAWK crossing, and added police attention. The city is implementing these safety measures in efforts to decrease car to bike or person collisions.

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If you go

Where: West end of Santa Rita Park just north of East 22nd Street on South 4th Avenue.

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m. until supplies run out