4 Considerations for Lighting a Pathway
Public pathways may be convenient during the day, but they often must close at sundown—which can limit their use, especially in winter months with shorter hours of daylight. Proper signage and after-dark policies may help, but installing effective lighting is an even better way to increase the sense of safety for walkers. Here are four key things to consider to effectively pathway street lighting.
#1: Consider What the Community Wants.
Properly assessed lighting considers who will be using the shared pathway and for what purpose. What types of users are there? Commuters traveling after dark, especially in winter, will likely need and want more lighting than weekend visitors, who may be more likely to stick to daylight hours for their activities.
In addition, there must be a proper environmental assessment to ensure the local ecology won’t be negatively affected by the pathway street lighting. Trees and underground works don’t mix very well, and tree roots often interfere with underground cabling when grid-powered lighting is used, which then leads to long-term maintenance costs.
#2: Consider What Lighting Type Works For the Physical Location.
There are several considerations for lighting on a pathway. Wired lighting may require little maintenance over time, but it is expensive to install and may not be feasible in riparian corridors or anywhere that environmental disruption is not permitted. Battery-powered lighting may be cheap and easy to repair, but it is not reliable and requires frequent maintenance for battery changes.
A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar pathway street lighting still be an option?
#3: Consider What Lighting Placement and Design Will Work for the Pathway Location and Use.
A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar lights still be an option?
- Meet Australia’s lighting compliance standards: Lights should comply with illumination requirements as set out by the Light Council of Australia.
- Light only what’s needed: Lights should be shielded, pointing only at the ground and not into the sky to help minimize light pollution, which affects people, animals, and the environment.
- Be appropriate: Lights should be scaled effectively for pathway use and spaced properly for adequate coverage.
- Be placed where required for safety: That includes at tunnels and overpasses; trailheads; bridge entrances and exits; public gathering places; along streets; crosswalks; where the path crosses another path or sidewalk; and on signage.
- Be aesthetically pleasing: While not a requirement, lights that have a warm-white glow rather than a blue-white glow are more pleasant to the eye. In the past, achieving this color with LEDs was more of a challenge, but today’s technology is making it possible to provide a warm-white LED light without breaking the bank.
#4: Consider Who will Be Installing and Maintaining the Lights
It is one thing to choose lights for the end-users, but it’s another to choose lights that will be cost-effective to install and maintain. Installation varies by location and type of light, so running a cost comparison can be a good place to start.
Meanwhile, maintenance can be a challenge for local governments with budgets already stretched thin. For wired lights, a problem with one can cause a whole string to go out. Battery-powered lights avoid this problem, but if the lights are not configured properly, the maintenance team may be out changing batteries more frequently than they would like. With solar lights, there is maintenance still required like any other lighting solution, however, if lithium-ion batteries are used and the technology is high quality, then maintenance is minimal.