In the dark and at risk - FOX 13 News

In the dark and at risk

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

They're hard to spot, but they're everywhere. Bike riders are out at night all over the city, in the dark and putting themselves and others at risk.

We recently went on a ride along with Officer Natasha Stanek of Tampa Police, and at 3 a.m. in District 1, we had not trouble finding bicyclists.

Several people even were cycling completely in the dark— with no bike lights whatsoever.

"It's a safety thing mostly," Stanek told us. "They ride around at night with no front light or back light on their bike."

It's not only a big problem in Tampa; it's a growing problem. Bike fatalities are at an all-time high in our area, and police say a major part of the problem is these bikers are nearly invisible.

"It's always surprising, and they are usually wearing dark clothing as well," Stanek said.

That's why Tampa police are now kicking off a new initiative. A grant sponsored by Target is allowing officers to hand out bike lights. It's free lights and safety advice.

"We're just going to drive around and see if we can find people that don't have any lights on their bikes," Stanek said during our ride around.

Most bikers tell officers they can't afford the lights. Others have no clue it's the law to light up.

Pedaling in the pitch-black is typically a $60 citation, but right now, if it's your first stop - you'll get no citation. Instead officers will hand you two lights – a clear white light for the front and a red for the back.

"When you wear your bike, try to wear lighter color clothing OK," one officer told a rider.

It's a program that could certainly help save lives.

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