511 Contra Costa wanted to show students how to make their bikes unique, personal, and safe. Putting lights on your bike makes it much safer to ride at night, allows you to personalize your bike and can make an old bike look modern and interesting.
Making it Glow
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to put lights on the bike, but not just any old lights. We purchased Cool Neon wire, or electroluminescent wire, from Funhouse Creations in Oakland.
Framing the Bike
We weren’t sure how we wanted the lights to look, so we used removable tape to frame the lights. We figured out which sections we wanted to apply the lights to, and then we attached them with both removable and permanent tape to protect the paint job and provide a lasting hold. In order to provide power, we used a huge battery pack and a “driver” that distributed the power.
511 Contra Costa Sign
The last piece of our new bike was the 511CC sign we wanted to put in the frame cutout. We made a cardboard layout and had TAP Plastics in Pleasant Hill cut an acrylic sheet for us. Then, Signs that Sell in Concord put our logo on it. To attach it, several holes were drilled in the plastic, and zip ties were used.
With lights and a custom sign, the 511 CC bike is unique, safe, and innovative. You can do the same thing to your bike. All you have to do is purchase a EL wire kit and attach the wires to your bike. No soldering or technical knowledge is required!
Make your bike personal and exciting!
Thanks to these volunteers who helped with this project:
Make sure that your bike has the correct lights and reflectors before you ride it at night. In California, you must have a white lamp at the front of your bike. You must also have a red reflector at the back, a white/yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle, and a white/yellow reflector on each side to the rear and front of the bike.
• Schwinn bike: $80
• Sign: $110
• Lighting the bike: $130
NOTE: You can find the ready-to-use EL wire kits (aka ‘starter kits’) you’ll need online for less than $60 total.
About the Builder
My name is Ethan Cordes, and I was a summer intern for 511 Contra Costa as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s High School Internship Program. I think that DIY projects are important, so go ahead and try this on your own bike!