FELLSMERE – In an effort to make bicyclists safer on Fellsmere roads, the Fellsmere Police Department – with help – installed 46 lights on bikes, handed out reflective vests and registered approximately 60 bikes.
“This is just awesome,” said Metropolitan Planning Organization member Sharon Schalm, who helped provide the bike lights to the city as part of Bicycle Safety Awareness Day.
“They just took the ball and ran with it,” she said of Fellsmere resident Korky Korker, a member of the MPO’s Citizen Advisory Committee who requested the lights, and other city leaders. Six-year-old Giselle Zamarripa was one of the many children who showed up at the Bike Light Night event near the Old Fellsmere School to get a light. Instead, she and the rest of her family got vouchers for lights.
The police department ran out of lights for everyone and began issuing vouchers for when more lights are delivered.
Giselle said she was excited about getting a light for her bike because she rides her bike “anywhere I want.”
Her dad, Raul Zamarripa, said that the family likes riding their bicycles in the park but they don’t feel as safe riding when it gets dark because it’s hard to see.
Police Chief Scott Melanson said that the city has been working with Florida Power and Light to replace the bulbs and lenses in the streetlights to improve lighting in the city.
The agreement has been that the bulbs would be replaced with higher wattage units once the old bulbs burn out. However, the bulbs refuse to burn out, the chief said.
Between the dim bulbs and the heavily frosted lenses covering them, the streetlights do not put out as much light as the city would like, he added.
As for Bike Light Night, the Police Department, with Mayor Susan Adams, handed out 50 reflective vests and more than a dozen vouchers for lights as they become available.
The department also registered more than 60 bicycles so that police can help return stolen bikes to the rightful owners.
“It was a rousing success,” Mayor Adams said during the Fellsmere City Council meeting.
Thursday’s was the first of four Bike Light events Fellsmere has planned.
The next events will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. as follows:
Jan. 18 at Sonrise Villas Apartments, 53 Sonrise Place
Jan. 19 at Fellsmere Senior League Ball Field, 220 S. Oleander St.
Jan. 20 at Whispering Pines – Fellsmere Community Enrichment Center, 10074 Esperanza Circle
Police Chief Melanson said he expects to hand out vouchers for the lights in the event more lights are not delivered in time. To be eligible, residents need to bring their bicycles to the site.