Who are street lights for ????

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Who are the principal Users of Street Lights ?

Poll ended at Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:14 pm

Car Drivers ?
3
14%
Pedestrians ?
9
41%
Cyclists ?
0
No votes
Security for Parked Cars ?
0
No votes
Officials in the Council Street Lighting Department ?
1
5%
Manufacturers / Installers / Maintainers of Street Lights ?
0
No votes
Suppliers of Energy for Street Lights ?
2
9%
Dog Walkers ?
0
No votes
Another Group ?
2
9%
Don't Know
5
23%
 
Total votes: 22

JohnM
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Who are street lights for ????

Post by JohnM »

I have been looking for some information on who the principal users of street lights are but no one seems to have ever published anything on this ! Without this information it is rather difficult to determine if the lights meet the requirements !

Please put your opinion in the poll - when answering there are a couple of things to consider.

First it is the principal user so you can only provide one answer.

If you believe car drivers are the principal users why do they all drive around with headlights on ?

If Pedestrians are the main users why are they angled to provide light over the road ?

If it is another group please add a message with who the group is
Engineer @ Work - Astronomer @ Play

Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Johnm
An interesting topic. However, as I most often will chicken out of using the poll.
As I understand it public highways are available for general public use. So streetlights are there for the benefit of all legitimate highway users.
Arguably motor vehicles are the fastest road users and so I suspect streetlighting is designed to supposedly at least cater for such vehicles to be driven safely within the appropriate speed limits.
My understanding is that legitimate Highway users have a right to pass and repass along a highway but there is no absolute right to stop and loiter. I think the police could ask someone to move along irrespective of them having powers to prevent riots!!!
Generally speaking I think lighting engineers try to ptrovide adequate lighting for pedestrians.
Perhaps interestingly in the old days street lighting used to work on the basis of providing a sort of ambient back ground light that enabled vehicles to be seen as dark silouhettes rather than being brightly illuminated. I am not entirely sure that principle applies now that street-lighting is "better". My feeling is that streetlighting engineers still want to increase the level of streetlighting if they possibly can.
What the future holds with regards to streetlighting improvements is anyones guess. I suspect energy use and energy limitations may be the main factor that affects. However, nuclear power, windturbines, tidal power, solar power may come to resue streetlighting ever increasing empire.
Best of luck from Cliff

Dan
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Post by Dan »

They must make it easier for your friendly neighbourhood burglar to spot which window you left open.

NigelJK
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Post by NigelJK »

I live on an estate, with a small back garden. I have a neighbour each side and 2 'over looking'. All of them have high wattage 'security' lights. When I go out to try and use my scope invariably 2 or 3 of these lights come on. I realise they are there to deter robbers etc. by why do thery come on when I'm in my back garden - not theirs ?

NigelJK
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Post by NigelJK »

BTW can't be cars as they have there own lights. Ask anyone whos driven into an unlit skip left by council.

davep
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Re: Who are street lights for ????

Post by davep »

JohnM wrote:If Pedestrians are the main users why are they angled to provide light over the road ?
Because people sometimes want to cross a road?

Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear al
An interesting point,
In the good old days (Starting fifty years back, I was subsequently involved in highway engineering work for 40 years). Street lighting was designed on the basis of a sort of backlighting effect whereby objects eg cars were seen in silhouette rather than being see directly illumination.
in the 1950's the Chief Constable of Birmingham (I think it was advocated the use of dimmed dipped headlights in street lit built up areas. This subsequently became recommended widely. One problem is\ or was, that using car headlights actually tends to work against the old principles by which street lights were supposed to be effective.
However the streetlighting issue is quite complicated, for example for one thing modern streetlighting is now very much brighter than it was in the old days. On the other hand some might argue that drivers find it easier to drive using their headlights no matter how bright the streetlighing is. On top of that is the argument that it better to use headlights so that pedestrians can see approacching vehicles more easily.
However, there is also the problem of glare, not using dipped headlights or badly adjusted lights. It is also sometimes difficult for a pedestrian to see who far away a car is if its headlights are very bright.
A couple of years back, acting as an amateur astronomer, I attended a meeting organised by the Instution of Lighting Engineers at which light pollution was a topic of discussion. Needless to say some of my comments were not popular and there were only two astronomers and about 40 lighting engineers. One lighting engineer said he has two children who he sometimes takes out walking at night, fortunately (for him he said) he lives in an area wher the lighting is modern High Pressure Sodium, if it were the old Low Pressure Sodium streetlighting he would not dare taking his kids out.
Well, that just about sums up a lighting engineers mentality to me.
Best of luck from Cliff

Paul S
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Post by Paul S »

Cliff wrote:fortunately (for him he said) he lives in an area wher the lighting is modern High Pressure Sodium, if it were the old Low Pressure Sodium streetlighting he would not dare taking his kids out.
Well, that just about sums up a lighting engineers mentality to me
Cliff, that shows why you need to be a bit political when arguing the point to non-astronomers. Non-astronomers don't really care that much whether 4th mag stars or whatever can be seen or not.

However, they will care when the issues raised are ones that might affect them directly. These are, IMO:

- costs
- waste
- safety
- quality of built environment

If we talk sensible about these issues, I'm sure we'll at least partly win the argument.

Cheers

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Brian
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Post by Brian »

NigelJK wrote:BTW can't be cars as they have there own lights. Ask anyone whos driven into an unlit skip left by council.
Must be why so many motorists drive around at night with both headlights and both front foglights on permanently - even where streetlighting is rampant. Better to avoid the unlit skips.... :?

ATB,
Brian
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear PaulS
With regards the particular "gentleman" I got talking to, who said he would not take his kids for a walk at night unless the area was lit by High Pressure Sodium (HPS)street-lights, bare in mind that the guy was a street-lighting engineer. He was not one of your average Joe Public. It is bad enough trying to discuss street-lighting with the general public but talking to many lighting engineers can be prettty tricky. To be fair some lighting engineers are sympathetic about light pollution. However, I think when taliking with lighting engineers, architects and town planners, one needs to be various cautious.
At the lighting\light pollution meeting I previously mentioned. I told the meeting that my wife had actually complained about new HPS lights in our street not just because they happened to be very bright but because one was lighting up our bedroom even though we had thick lined curtains. I was actually jeered by many of the lighting engineers in the room who suggested that because I was an amateur astronomer I had put my wife up to complaining about the light. In fact although my wife is of course fully aware of my concerns about light pollution, her complaint was purely about excessive glare stopping her sleeping. To be fair on our local authority they did actually baffle the offending light which reduced that particular glre somewhat.
However, I think the Chairman's remarks when opening that meeting tend to sum up lighting engineers feelings -
"And God said let there be light ......................"
However, I do think some things about public lighting and light pollution are slowly becoming gradually better understood. But it is still only pretty slowly.
Best of luck from Cliff

JohnM
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Post by JohnM »

Cliff et al,

The worrying thing is the association that is begining to emerge between a lack of darkness at night and Cancer. Apparently the theory is that you need darkness to create Melatolin which acts to prevent cells becoming cancerous. It is not clear how bright the light has to be to stop the production of Melatolin at night.

If proved this will have big implications particually on night workers.

Well outside my field but that's what some recent reports have said.

John Murrell
Engineer @ Work - Astronomer @ Play

DeepSkyObserver
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Post by DeepSkyObserver »

There's an obvious category missing from that poll, namely: 'Members of the public who feel insecure without excessive lighting'.

Vega
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Post by Vega »

I hate street lights.... shoot them all with B B guns I say :twisted:

Then at least the council will have to install new one's that just might be better design :roll:
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