Better Designed Street Lighting
NOTE: This idea merges several ideas submitted calling for energy efficient street light design.
NOTE: Tony's idea "Streetlight reflectors + LEDs" has been merged with this one.
A gradual changeover of streetlights to LEDs with the addition of a reflective cover to direct the light downwards. The passive reflector will save energy by lowering the required wattage for the same illuminating effect, and will reduce light pollution in the skies. Also I presume, eventually, lighting in all municipal buildings can be replaced. I realise that the traffic and pedestrian crossing lights have already been retrofitte
NOTE: Al's idea "retro fit to green street lights" has been merged with this one.
We are all supposed to change our incandescent light bulbs to florescent or led.
What about the thousands of street lights which burn every night using old technology? we need to change over to induction lighting or LED like Europe has.
Cheaper to run and last 10 times as long.
If we want to be the Greenest city on earth then City Hall has to change it's light bulbs too! ALL OF THEM!
NOTE: Erik's idea "Reduce street lighting" has been merged with this one.
1. Contrary to accepted wisdom, street lighting does not reduce crime. In fact, many good studies find it increases it.
2. From a road safety perspective, lighting based on need makes sense (timing, brightness varied by location according to foot and vehicle traffic stats). Good studies and experience in Europe support this.
3. Not only would we save electricity, reduce crime, and improve sleep quality for residents, as a bonus we'd also stand to gain more frequent views of the night sky-- an often humbling experience lost to most city-dwellers.
As a side-issue, we might have to lobby Federally to act against the current fashion for tinted automobile windows. These are unsafe because they reduce drivers' visual acuity to sides and rear, and are wasteful because they can only be compensated by increasingly excessive street lighting.
Phillip Ichikawa commented
LED street lights are not only cheaper to operate and last 10 times longer. They can be powered by solar and/or wind turbine power to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get us on the path to carbon neutral.
They can be installed in parking lots, bike/walking trails, dog parks as a visible benefit we are the Greenest city in the world by 2020.
The city of Coquitlam is already doing this for streetlights. They are available and cost effective over a life cycle cost analysis, there is no reason why we can't start installing LED lights and streetlights straight away
Janna L. Sylvest commented
I’m delighted to see this issue raised. Excessive ,unnecessary night light is a greening issue. Vancouver would be rising above the obvious if it were to recognize, and act, to turn out and turn down night lighting.
To be clear, and to address the concerns raised about night safety ... The point of decreasing the night lighting is not to make every place dark, it’s to make less places light. Lighting on demand and when needed is key. In general, women are safer after dark when there is less draw to those who would cause harm to being out, “prowling” so to speak after dark! With less lighting overall, and hence a greater concentration of people in the areas still lit, it stands to reason that there would be a lower risk to women after dark as they would less likely to go into areas that were seemingly unoccupied and there would be a wider range of people with purpose other than to cause harm in those corridors of light.
For two very compelling articles on the benefits of turning out the lights, see the National Geographic article on light pollution:http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution
And The New Yorkers The Dark Side: Making War On Light Pollution: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/20/070820fa_fact_owen
The New Yorker article cites urban crime statistics where crime drops as the lights are turned off, of particular note is the decrease in vandalism - it takes good lighting to effect ones graffiti tags on school buildings and other public facilities, after all.
I’ve had first hand experience with the benefit of turning out the lights, where I was successful after two successive summers of frequent and nightly calls to the Police, in getting the overhead basketball court lights turned off at a near by elementary school. The nightly underaged drinking parties, facility vandalism, and incidents of assault, both sexual and otherwise stopped immediately. It’s been 6 years of peace and quiet in the summer since those lights were turned off!
If the motivation is to save energy there are other options than simply reducing street lighting. If we followed Europe into the 21st century and installed newer technology like led and induction lighting we would save energy and maintenance costs in big #'s and be able to affect other changes with the savings
For evidence against the crime-prevention benefits of street lighting you could start with a British Astronomical Society website that cites a number of UK studies:
This UK study suggests street lights in general improve our fear of the dark, but not actual crime:
And this careful meta-analysis of existing studies, not limited to the UK, show the benefits are at best, mixed:
Street lighting is more about our collective nervousness about darkness than about stopping crime. TV crime shows use darkness for dramatic effect, and I'm afraid many of us through lack of experience have never had the chance to get comfortable with nighttime darkness. I'm sympathetic to people's fears, but really when you think about it, why would criminals be able to see any better on dark sidewalks than young females?
Can you cite those studies that sate it increases crime? Young females are not going to be ecstatic about walking around on dark sidewalk.