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We always want people to do the right thing on their own, but because common sense is not a prerequisite for things like owning and riding a bike or buying a bicycle for your child, legislation becomes involved.

Rep. Wayne Waddell, R-Shreveport, wanted to make sure bicyclists who ride at night are visible to other traffic, so he introduced House Bill 1121 mandating cyclists have a red or a red blinking light on the back of their bikes if they ride at night. It was killed because of opposition to its proposed fines of $25 to $50 plus court costs for offenders.

Waddell stripped the fines from the language, instead opting for warning tickets, and attached the revised version as an amendment to House Bill 298 by Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, which dealt with where bicyclists are allowed to ride on a street. Waddell says he may reinsert the fines when the bill reaches the Senate.

The issue to me isn’t really whether cyclists should have to pay a fine for failing to have a red light and reflectors on their bikes, but rather making sure those lights are there so other vehicle operators can see the bikes in the dark. In my view, a headlight on the front of the bike also should be included. Exempting the bikes of children under 10 also seems counterproductive. One hopes parents are vigilant in allowing children this young to ride the streets after dark in the first place, but without any reflectors so cars can see them, or a headlight that allows the cyclist to see where he or she is going, is folly. Why exempt those who need protection the most and are least cognizant of the consequences?

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