Appropriate quality and placement of lighting can enhance an environment as well as increase comfort and safety. Pedestrians often assume that motorists can see them at night; they are deceived by their own ability to see the oncoming headlights. Without sufficient overhead lighting, motorists may not be able to see pedestrians in time to stop.
In commercial areas with nighttime pedestrian activity, streetlights and building lights can enhance the ambiance of the area and the visibility of pedestrians by motorists. It is best to place streetlights along both sides of arterial streets and to provide a consistent level of lighting along a road way. Nighttime pedestrian crossing areas may be supplemented with brighter or additional lighting. This includes lighting pedestrian crosswalks and approaches to the crosswalks.
In commercial areas or in downtown areas, specialty pedestrian-level lighting may be placed over the sidewalks to improve pedestrian comfort, security, and safety. Pedestrian-scale lighting is lower in height (12 to 16 feet) than standard streetlighting and is spaced closer together (about 60 feet). As an item of street furniture, these lights should be placed just inside the curb.
In the past, most crosswalks had a single luminaire placed directly over the crosswalk. This positioning did not adequately illuminate the pedestrian for the approaching motorist. A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that 20 lx was necessary for motorists to detect a pedestrian in the crosswalk. To achieve 20 lx, the luminaire should be placed 10 feet from the crosswalk, in between the approaching vehicles and the crosswalk. At intersections, the luminaires should also be placed before the crosswalk on the approach into the intersection. This differs from traditional placement of luminaires over the actual intersection.
Proper street lighting illuminates pedestrian crosswalks and reduces glare to motorists. It can also enhance commercial districts and improve nighttime security.
- Ensure that pedestrian walkways and crosswalks are well lit.
- Install lighting on both sides of wide streets and streets in commercial districts.
- Use uniform lighting levels.
Pedestrian-level streetlight costs range from approximately $300 to $13,900 each, depending on the fixture type and service agreement with the local utility company. The average cost is approximately $4,900. Crosswalk lighting can range from approximately $10,750 to $42,000 per crosswalk, and in-pavement lighting from $6,500 to $40,000 as a total cost. More detailed cost information can be found here.