My objective is simple enough... I want people to be safe when out riding. Too often on my way to work I often see cyclists in the dark and rain without lights. When I see them I try and offer them an extra light I keep handy, just in case.
The problem is I have only been successful two times over the course of a full year. Most of the time, male or female, young or old, I am told that they either have one some where or they forgot their batteries or some other crazy excuse. I have even offered free batteries to no avail.
One time it took me running into the same fellow three times on a dark forest track before he would accept an old set of trail lights I had kicking about. (And of course the next day my newer replacement lights died - talk about Murphy's Law!) The only other time, I felt like the person was begrudgingly allowing me to mount a light on their bike (they were riding in the dark down a busy rural road with no street lights).
In theory this should be a simple exercise, but I am failing miserably.
I know my approach is important so I focus on being friendly and non-judgemental (no one likes being called out). I don't tell them what they should or should not be doing, I only talk about how the conditions make it hard to see and that I have some lights they can have.
What is going on here? Am I missing some sort of psychological/human nature angle? Should I be taking a completely different approach?
Note: I am unclear if the bicycles stack is the most appropriate stack for the question, but figured I would give it a go here first.
I wanted to thank everyone for their ideas and feedback.I am currently shopping the idea of a central light give-away with various local sponsors. The best target will be in the area around the major city I live in as it has the highest density of cyclists.
That said, I actually work out in a smaller community, which will likely be missed in any give away due to the lower volume of cyclists. So I am continuing to work on my technique for the ones I encounter here. Tonight I was able to give one to a older stealth cyclist who refused me in the past (and who was actually the impetus for this post). I just extra time striking up a conversation and was a bit more persuasive in my sell job. Also I made an extra effort to communicate that there were no strings were attached (mainly in my tone and some small comments about the origins of the lights - Moᶎ's "unknown provenance." I will also see if a small light gift certificate is an easier give-away.