Letter To The Coast Magazine by Peggy Cameron, Coordinator, Friends of the Halifax Common
Glare And Present Danger – Letter to the Editor, January 15, 2015. Although we can feel vulnerable walking alone at night, there no evidence that bright lights reduce crime. (Streetlight scarcity casts risky shadows,” feature by Ameya Charnalie and Sergio Gonzalez, How to fix the city issue January 8).
That’s not to say Halifax doesn’t have lots of problems with lighting. There is a public safety issue when people need to be able to walk through neighbourhoods or parking lots, and cross the street. But while a badly lit crosswalk may increase the odds that the pedestrian won’t be visible to a driver, too much and or improperly directed light can cause glare, affecting the driver’s eyesight and decreasing safety. And light that casts too much shadow can create places for people to hide.
Effective lighting is fully shielded with well designed cut-offs so that it is directed downward on what needs to be lit not into the eyes of the walker or driver, onto the neighbour’s property or into the night sky.
Light’s intensity drops dramatically the further it gets from the source. If a light is at the top of a 2m pole, 1/4 of the light’s intensity or illumination reaches the ground; if its at the top of a 3m pole, 1/9 of the light’s intensity reaches the ground.
(Note: Only the bold part below was included in The Coast’s publication) Its unclear that Halifax has any ordinance on lighting. Many buildings have lights pointing at the sky or into the public’s eye. Downtown buildings are lit all night long. Service stations and stores flood light into neighbourhoods overnight. And the multiple stadium lights without cut-offs installed on too-tall poles at The Oval are a glaring example of ineffective and inefficient lighting design.
Better lighting can help us feel safe and be safe but other factors need to be worked on too. Does the city design and plan our communities with public safety as a priority? And how much effort is the city putting into addressing the broader societal issues that contribute to public safety and prevent crime. For more info see www.darksky.org.