Roadway Lighting Improvements:

Good 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. Mercury vapor, incandescent, or less expensive high-pressure sodium lighting is often preferred as pedestrian-level lighting. Low-pressure sodium lights are low energy, but have a high level of color distortion.



  Purpose
• Enhance safety of all roadway users, particularly pedestrians.
• Enhance commercial districts.
• Improve nighttime security.
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  Considerations
• 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.
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  Estimated Cost
Varies depending on fixture type and service agreement with local utility.
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  Case Studies
Eureka, CA 
Grand Junction, CO 
Fort Plain, NY
Oneonta, NY 
Tempe, AZ 
University Place, WA 
Santa Monica, CA 
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Adapted from Making Streets That Work, Seattle, 1996


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U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration