10/09/2014 07:39 EDT | Updated 12/09/2014 05:59 EST

Vélo Québec hands out free bike lights to improve nighttime cycling safety

A third of fatal incidents involving cyclists happen under the cover of darkness, according to the province’s automobile insurance board.

Those incidents happen between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Insp. André Durocher of Montreal police said statistics don’t tell the whole story.

“You never get what I call near-misses where, let’s say, a vehicle nearly hits a bike… Well, because he didn’t hit that bike, that will not make it in the statistics,” Durocher said.

As a result, police and cycling advocates are pushing an education campaign to alert cyclists to the fact that they need to be more visible at night.

Cyclists are legally required to have a front white light and a rear red light on at night, in addition to reflectors. Yet, according to cycling advocacy group Vélo Québec, 25 per cent of cyclists who ride at night do not have any lights at all.

“Very often, just because of the weather conditions and everything, cyclists are not always aware of the fact that motorists can’t see them,” Durocher said.

Vélo Québec will be handing out free bike lights at the corner of Rachel and Brébeuf streets in  Lafontaine Park Thursday between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.