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City of Missoula staff members will be out Saturday evening at the start of the Missoula Downtown Association’s Parade of Lights to draw attention to the importance of using lights on bikes at night

The city staff, including Mayor John Engen and City Council members, will have gift bags to distribute to parade spectators, each containing a bike light set, local bike map and a copy of state bike laws.

The parade starts at 6 p.m. at South Fourth Street and Higgins Avenue and continues to the north end of Higgins, where the holiday tree will be lit. The bike light promotion is brought to the public by the Bicycle/Pedestrian Program and Missoula in Motion each year when the days grow short.

“It is always important to have lights on your bike when riding at night,” said Ben Weiss, Bicycle/Pedestrian Program manager, “but it is essential when the days get short and rush hour happens in the dark. Our campaign Be Safe, Be Seen urges bicyclists to use lights front and back for safety.”

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The city has also started this year’s Mayor’s Bike Light Initiative, which puts 150 quality bike light sets in police department patrol cars. Engen launched the initiative in fall 2006 after a young cyclist died after being hit by a vehicle near the intersection of Beckwith and Higgins avenues.

Local partners have helped the Mayor’s Office each year with the wintertime effort. Missoula in Motion purchased this year’s light sets.

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