Street and roadway lighting design and public safety

September 13, 2016

In any city or town, street lighting play a large role in public safety. The safety street lights provide is the result of careful and strategic planning that ensures large, densely populated areas are well-lit. We’ve outlined below some of the basics of street light planning and its effect on safety.

If you have more questions about street light design, contact Structura or your local Structura representative.

Street and roadway lighting design requires careful study of the city, community, or campus requirements. There are two main considerations when designing lighting for your street: safety and context.

Street light placement and public safety

Street lights first and foremost function to provide visual acuity for the safety of its occupants. Higher illumination levels are necessary in areas of high street traffic. Faster traffic speeds also require higher levels since low light levels increase driver response time.

For personal safety, lights should be consistently positioned throughout streets so pedestrians don’t experience long intervals of darkness. A good rule of thumb is to space poles apart a distance of four to five times their height. For example, 20’ poles can be spaced 80’ – 100’ apart. This spacing will ultimately be determined by your selection of street light lighting distribution pattern, but this is a good starting point. Proper spacing allows for even illumination from pole to pole.

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), has published guidelines for determining the appropriate illumination levels and contrast ratios for various road conditions.

Context and street lighting for placemaking

The context and the neighborhood should also be taken into consideration when implementing your lighting design. Street lights and poles are just one object on the street along with benches, bike racks, bollards, and signage. All these site furnishing must reinforce the look and feel of the neighborhood.

Keep this in mind when making your selections to maintain a consistent identity for your project. A tech company’s campus is likely more suited to modern styles verses a historic urban neighborhood where decorative cast iron furnishings would be more appropriate. Often architectural guidelines will be set forth by the establishment or community commissioning the project.

Structura is an industry leader in innovative urban furniture, fixtures and designs. If you’re considering street lights for your landscape and planning needs, contact the specialists at Structura or your local Structura sales representative.

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