Free bike light campaign aims to make Ottawa roads safer

Ottawa cyclist Phillippe Dessaint-Ash has turned himself into a part-time bike light dispenser as a way to make city roads safer.

Cyclist says he's given away more than a thousand lights he bought himself

Giving free bike lights

8 years ago
Duration 2:16
An Ottawa man is using his own money to hand out hundreds of bike lights to cyclists.

An Ottawa cyclist has turned himself into a part-time bike light dispenser as a way to make city roads safer.

Phillippe Dessaint-Ash says he's paid for and given away more than a thousand bike lights since last summer. (CBC)
A few times a week, Phillippe Dessaint-Ash heads out to busy streets with as many as 50 bike lights to give away, along with a flyer encouraging cyclists to use them at night.

He said he started his "Bike Brite" campaign after seeing many cyclists without proper, legal equipment.

"As cyclists it's our responsibility to share the road with cars and pedestrians," he said. "It's very important to be predictable and an essential quality of that is to be visible at night."

Dessaint-Ash said most people without a light know they need one and are happy to get one for free.

'I pay for them myself'

"I pay for them myself. They cost about about the same as a coffee and it's very much worth it," he said. "It feels good to stand behind something you believe in and this is something I felt I could really make an impact with."

Ottawa police say people biking without the proper lights and reflectors could be fined as much as $110.

"The law for the Highway Traffic Act (is) the bicycle has to have, at night time, a white light at the front of the bike and it has to have a red light reflector at the rear," said Const. Chuck Benoit, a spokesman for Ottawa police.

Dessaint-Ash said he’s given away more than 1,000 bike lights since last summer, and he plans to keep going as long as he feels it's needed.