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Author Topic: Better Streetlights for Tulsa  (Read 110375 times)
PonderInc
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« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2009, 11:17:26 am »

I recently spoke at a TMAPC meeting about the need to consider wattage in the lighting plans for PUDs. (This is a different issue than streetlights, but equally important.)

The current PUD requirements talk about meeting the "Kennebunkport Standard" but nothing about wattage.  After reading the Kennebunkport ordinance, I thought it was very lenient and general.  I would look at Tuscon's ordinance as a better example with more clarity and definitive standards.  Certainly, the Kennebunkport language is better than nothing. 

But I also realized that nobody but a lighting professional (or Patric) could ever understand the lighting plans that get submitted to the TMAPC.  So when normal citizens express concern about reflected (indirect) glare from over-wattage/inappropriate bulbs, nobody knows what to do.  They asked the developer if they would consider lower wattage bulbs, which of course, the developer said they would "consider."  But I'm sure that was just lip service so they could get approval of their plan as written.

I was encouraged when a member of the TMAPC (Bill Leighty) said that, although he'd never heard anyone raise this issue before, perhaps it is something that should be studied.  I get the idea that he understands urban design issues, including the importance of good lighting.
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patric
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« Reply #46 on: June 15, 2009, 11:41:00 am »

While not an Acorn, here are some LED post-top lights installed in the town of Banf in the Rocky Mountains that sort of look like something I would find at Woolaroc:
http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/led-streetlight_banff.jpg
 
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« Reply #47 on: June 15, 2009, 11:48:00 am »

Anyone see the lights they installed in Downtown Bartlesville?

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patric
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« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2009, 12:01:27 pm »

So when normal citizens express concern about reflected (indirect) glare from over-wattage/inappropriate bulbs, nobody knows what to do.

One of the best examples of that issue is when zoning boards place height limitations on light poles without taking into account the need to proportionately reduce intensity.

What happens is the same bright light the applicant wanted at 40' is now restricted to 25' and much closer to the ground which creates a pool of intense, non-uniform light that actually makes it harder for the eye to adapt.  The lighting company then blames the zoning board for messing up their design, but if the lighting installers were worth their salt they would have known to back off on the wattage in the first place.

Since some lighting installers arent that, um, bright, it might be appropriate for TMAPC to "suggest" reducing wattage the closer you install to the ground to avoid pooling while accomplishing zoning compliance.
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patric
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« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2009, 12:09:25 pm »

Anyone see the lights they installed in Downtown Bartlesville?

They are attractive, have a nice dayform (daytime appearance) but look at all that glass sticking down from underneath the skirt.
Look at it again at night and see what you think.

They could have possibly gotten a much more eye-friendly version from the same manufacturer, where the skirt was deeper and the glass less visible, and improved visibility while cutting back on the wattage that is otherwise wasted at angles useless to human vision. 
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« Reply #50 on: June 15, 2009, 02:28:54 pm »

They are attractive, have a nice dayform (daytime appearance) but look at all that glass sticking down from underneath the skirt.
Look at it again at night and see what you think.

They could have possibly gotten a much more eye-friendly version from the same manufacturer, where the skirt was deeper and the glass less visible, and improved visibility while cutting back on the wattage that is otherwise wasted at angles useless to human vision. 

Still "mostly" directed downward rather than up and out like the acorn.
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patric
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« Reply #51 on: June 20, 2009, 11:01:07 pm »

 
The American Medical Association weighs in on shielded streetlighting at their June 15 meeting:


RESOLVED That our AMA advocate that all future outdoor lighting be of
energy efficient designs to reduce waste of energy and production of
greenhouse gasses that result from this wasted energy use, and be it
further

RESOLVED That our AMA develop and enact a policy that supports light
pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the
national and state levels; and be it further

RESOLVED That our AMA support that all future streetlights will be of a
fully shielded design or similar non-glare design to improve the safety
of our roadways for all, but especially vision impaired and older
drivers.

http://www.ama-assn.org/
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"Tulsa will lay off police and firemen before we will cut back on unnecessarily wasteful streetlights."  -- March 18, 2009 TulsaNow Forum
Cherish
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« Reply #52 on: June 21, 2009, 01:57:37 pm »

While not an Acorn, here are some LED post-top lights installed in the town of Banf in the Rocky Mountains that sort of look like something I would find at Woolaroc:
http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/led-streetlight_banff.jpg
 

If that's Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I haven't been there in FOREVER.  Great place to ski!
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patric
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« Reply #53 on: June 24, 2009, 09:45:08 pm »

From Wednesdays Whirled:

DTU has been paying for the electricity for the specialty “acorn” lights installed as part of the downtown street improvements from the 2006 third-penny sales tax program, (Downtown Tulsa Unlimited Board Chairman Don Walker) said.

After the lights were installed, he said, neither the city or property owners accepted responsibility for them, “so DTU just paid the bill because we knew the lights had to be on.”

Paul Strizek, the Public Works Department’s manager of planning contracts, said the city would use the assessment fees to keep the lights on and to maintain the public rights of way, landscaping and sidewalk furniture.


Ill bet that makes the businesses who are getting the ballpark assessment fees rammed down their throats feel good they are also paying the growing electric bill for the junk lights.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 09:50:43 pm by patric » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: June 24, 2009, 10:27:58 pm »

A case study:  Minneapolis


High-tech solutions are hitting Minneapolis streets

Streetlights and parking meters will incorporate new technology to improve our everyday lives in the city.


Cell phones that allow you to pay for a parking spot. Downtown lights that dim in the wee hours of the morning. New pedestrian-level street lights that do a better job of putting light where it helps and not where it hurts.

Those are some of the emerging ways in which recent technology is affecting life on the streets of Minneapolis.

Let's start with perhaps the lowest-tech example -- pedestrian streetlights. The ornamental (acorn) streetlights the city currently uses have been blamed for casting light in too many directions. Critics say the lights cause glare, which actually impedes the vision of pedestrians or drivers approaching the light.

This issue resurfaced this month as a City Council committee considered the city's new street-lighting policy. The panel moved to set standards for how well streetlights direct their light downward and not far to the side or upward into the skies.

At the urging of Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, the committee specified that new pedestrian lighting fixtures need to meet at least the second-most-stringent standard for directing light, known as cutoff lighting. She hopes later to amend that to the most-stringent level of full-cutoff lighting after consulting further with staff specialists. Neither of the popular lantern or acorn styles of ornamental lamps that have been installed by the city now meets these standards. But Glidden sounds confident that with some prodding, potentially from city purchasing specs, both could be modified further to better direct their light.

Besides the safety issues created by glare concerns, advocates of better-directed light argue that it's a technique that reduces the amount shining into nearby bedrooms, makes the stars more visible and helps migrating birds.

Meanwhile, another new technology will be piloted downtown on Marquette and 2nd Avenues next year. It will be used to dim or shut off some lights in the wee hours of the night, saving energy use.

That news perked up the ears of council members who wanted to know if the technology could go citywide if the test is successful. They were told that would require some modification of streetlights so that they could received signals through the wireless communication system now operating in Minneapolis.

http://www.startribune.com/local/36467834.html?elr=KArksLckDiUvckDiU_1OKUiacyKUnciatkEP7DhU



To see how far ahead of the curve they are compared to Tulsa,
this was Minneapolis in 2006:


The city of Minneapolis has installed thousands of ornamental acorn- or lantern-style streetlamps in the past 15 years to improve neighborhoods and reduce crime, but the new lights are overly bright and poorly designed, making it difficult for police officers to see through the glare. "They could have a suspect right in front of them, and they wouldn't see him," said Steven Orfield of Orfield Laboratories Inc. He tested the lights and found them to be thousands of times brighter than their surroundings, meaning they cast a disabling glare. The city was notified of the problem in 1999 but continued to install the lights. About 8,500 of them now cover 10 percent of the city. "It's more difficult to see with some of those lights," said Lt. Chris Hildreth of the Minneapolis police's 5th Precinct. Reports by two lighting consultants find that the glare is a problem not only for police but also for motorists and pedestrians, especially older citizens. A focus group said the glare actually made streets seem less safe and comfortable. The Minneapolis Department of Public Works sees the lights as part of an overall plan to increase safety and comfort in the city.

Now the city is looking at options, which include replacing the fixtures, pulling and replacing the whole streetlights, or doing nothing. "It was a boondoggle to begin with and a boondoggle now," said Prospect Park resident Michael Atherton, who opposed the lights when they were installed in his neighborhood in 1999. "I don't feel like paying for them a second time; I didn't want to pay the first time."

Minneapolis property owners pay for the lights through tax assessments. Some have already paid thousands of dollars to install the lights, which cost the city about $6,000 each.

Besides glare, the lights waste electricity compared with the alternatives the city might have used, and that costs taxpayers money and needlessly creates greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Problems and possible solutions

Replacing the poorly designed fixtures, probably the most expensive option initially, "is the cheapest solution in the long run," Orfield says. Beverly Warmka of the Department of Public Works said that the reports are under review and that "at this time, we do not have any comments."

The problem with the lights is that they shoot light in every direction - up, down and sideways - including directly into one's eyes. It's the same effect as facing the bright lights of an oncoming car, except that the effect is continuous. Details disappear as the eye struggles to cope with the bright light. The lamps' low height and antique-like fixtures, which aren't meant for today's high-output light sources, compound matters. Lower light in these fixtures won't deliver enough illumination.

Former City Council Member Dan Niziolek sensed trouble eight years ago when he was a crime prevention specialist for the Minneapolis Police Department and contacted Orfield. But even after presenting the city with research and lab demonstrations, he was unable to convince Public Works or the City Council that the lights were a problem.

People have complained about the lights, including Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy. "I hate them as a driver," she said. "I find that they make it difficult to drive."


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patric
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« Reply #55 on: July 20, 2009, 10:23:06 am »

Someone's thinking in the right direction:

New lights installed by the Pedestrian Bridge along River Parks show a new style of lighting both for the trail and the road that reduces the amount of light pollution.
By PHIL MULKINS World Staff Writer
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20090720_15_A2_Nwlgtn764141

Evening motorists cruising scenic Riverside Drive from 24th Street to the Pedestrian Bridge will soon be able to see more than just the glare of unshielded street lights. The city is installing Holophane Luminaire street lights designed to "put a football shaped light pattern on the ground" — not the air motorists must look through, said Tulsa Traffic Operations Manager Mark A. Brown.

The $120,000 expenditure is being paid by third-penny sales-tax funds set aside for park improvements and George Kaiser Family Foundation donations. The flat panel lights are four times more expensive than standard street lights "but they put great light on the roadway — good distribution of light on the surface," he said. They are aesthetically pleasing, making trail improvements appear more like "urban park" than industrial blight.

Alan McBeath, River Parks maintenance manager, said these lights are upgrades from PSO "cobra head lights" and "farm lights" that were in the area and still run the length of Riverside out south. For now, the five-eighths-mile string of Mongoose style, night-sky-friendly lights is all that is planned this summer, but the city intends to make similar replacements all the way to trail's-end (planned to be at 71st Street) and across the Arkansas River Bridge, replacing "shoebox lights," said Brown.

Rather than string aerial wire or bury supply conduit in trenches (that would have killed saplings planted there) PSO subcontractor Davis H. Elliott Co. used a "horizontal directional drilling machine" to bore subsurface holes base to base. Also, the new street lights are five feet from the curb instead of at curbside where the old poles killed and maimed many a motorist. The new poles are the nonlethal, break-away variety.


...But im a little concerned about this:

"The new light is the same 250-watt, high-pressure sodium variety as our other street and highway lights, but the fixture has a flat lens as opposed to the drop-glass lens of our cobra-head lights," said Tracy Freeman, customer design engineering tech for American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma. "The city wanted something more aesthetically pleasing to go with trail improvements and that's why we chose these."


When you convert to Full-cutoff fixtures, you are in essence recycling all the light that has been previously wasted upward and outward (as glare) back onto the road surface.  That dramatically increases the amount of light on the road so much to the point where you have to reduce the wattage to maintain a comfortable and uniform illumination.  Failing to reduce the wattage results in pooling and makes unlit areas appear darker, which in turn gives the perception that more lights need be installed to compensate for the darker areas.  Great if your selling electricity but not good if you are paying the tab or trying to see under that light.   

(edited to add)
I took a look at them in daylight, and was relieved to find they were not the version of the 'Mongoose' that was used on south Yale avenue but rather a flat-lens version pointed straight down.

This is good.
They stuck with Sodium, which was smart (longer life and less maintenance than the garish blue Metal Halide) and except for the over-lamping, they are on the right track.
Ill look at them at night to see if the spacing works, but they still beat acorns hands-down. 
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 01:06:51 pm by patric » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: September 07, 2009, 10:20:07 pm »

Article from USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-08-26-cities-turn-off-streetlights_N.htm


The old-fashioned streetlight is the recession's latest victim. To save money, some cities and towns are turning off lights, often lots of them.

The cost-cutting moves coincide with changing attitudes about streetlights. Once viewed as helpful safety measures, the lights are increasingly seen by some public officials and researchers as an environmental issue, creating light pollution and burning excess energy.

In July, Santa Rosa, Calif., started a two-year effort to remove 6,000 of the city's 15,000 streetlights. An additional 3,000 will be placed on a timer that shuts lights off from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Savings: $400,000 a year.

The city boasts that it will cut its carbon footprint. What really matters, though, is money.

Public works director Rick Moshier says he'd already cut his department's budget by 25% when he turned to streetlights. "I can either fix potholes and storm drains or keep paying $800,000 a year for electricity," Moshier says.

Turning out the lights has met some local resistance. Santa Rosa has a hotline for complaints.

"What about the human factor?" says Kenneth Ozoonian of North Andover, Mass. His town is turning off 626 streetlights — about one-third of the town's total — to save $47,000 annually.

"Some of these lights have been on for 40 or 50 years. The elderly, children and the disabled need the light," he says. Other towns flipping the switch:

• Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod is considering shutting off 832 lights to save $50,000 a year.

• Montgomery, Pa., had its police department choose which lights would go. The town turned off 31 lights, one-third of the total, to save $6,000.

• South Portland, Maine, joined several other Maine towns when the City Council voted to turn off 112 lights, saving $20,000 a year.

In Minnesota, cities and towns are starting to charge "streetlight fees" to cover the cost.

Northfield, Minn., a city of 19,000 will decide next month whether to add a $2.25 streetlight fee to monthly water and sewer bills. More than 30 Minnesota towns have added the fee.

"Streetlights are more expensive than people realize," Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing says. Her city spends about $230,000 a year on streetlights.

Many cities are leaving streetlights at intersections but removing them from residential neighborhoods, especially from the middle of blocks.

Most cities use more light than they need, at least in some places, says scientist John Bullough of the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Towns should be careful about removing lights, he says. "It's not something you want to do by throwing darts at the map."

There's little evidence to support the belief that streetlights reduce crime, he says. However, lighting does reduce traffic accidents, especially at intersections.

The nation's streetlights consume electricity equivalent to 1.4 million homes. They generate greenhouse gases equal to 2 million cars a year.





My take on this is that, while Tulsa has a large number of unnecessary or poorly-designed street lights, it would be a mistake to leave large areas that would otherwise benefit from night-time utilization in the dark.

Our streetlighting system was designed with "ballasting" excess off-peak electrical generation in mind, with assisting human vision a much lower design consideration.  This was in the days when "any light is a good light, and the more the better" was the mantra ... nowadays we pay more attention to how glare and excess lighting  work against being able to see better at night.
That means we could be following the lead of other cities that successfully do more with less -- cut back on wattage that only goes into the sky or your eyes -- by using better fixtures, more appropriate intensities and better planning on were lights are really needed.

Mid block lights?  The present ones can go, unless the neighborhoods want to pay to keep them, and if that's the case they should have more say as to the quality and quantity of those lights.

Think of a walkable neighborhood lit not by a large, glaring orange thing, but a series of much less intense, cheaper-to-operate pedestrian-scale streetlights that render the streetscape more uniformly illuminated.
Fewer harsh shadows and intense light/dark spots would be more inviting and should result in better pedestrian utilization and safety, but we need to get past the mega-watt mindset of our past street lighting strategy.   
Ultra-efficient L.E.D. streetlights are close at hand (current models are too blue and garish) but Compact Fluorescent is ready today.   

Current streetlights at residential street corners can have their wattage cut in half if more efficient fixtures were used.  Once you eliminate the glare you would be amazed at how little electricity is really needed.
   
   
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« Reply #57 on: October 08, 2009, 03:10:13 pm »

Bluish-white streetlights are not only garish and uninviting, but here are a few other reasons to avoid them:

http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/IDA-Blue-Rich-Light-White-Paper.pdf

« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 08:52:29 pm by patric » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: October 08, 2009, 07:31:33 pm »

Bluish-white streetlights are not only garish and uninviting, but here are a few other reasons to avoid them:

http://docs.darksky.org/PR/PR_Blue_White_Light.pdf

Do you have a chart with the popular sodium vapor street light emissions overlaid on the eye sensitivity?
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« Reply #59 on: October 08, 2009, 10:43:08 pm »

Do you have a chart with the popular sodium vapor street light emissions overlaid on the eye sensitivity?

Not an overlay, but you can line up the wavelengths (nanometers)


And yes, the golden-colored High Pressure Sodium light is going to be better for the eye than Metal Halide or bluish-white LED's, given the research sofar.
The first chart shows the eye's Circadian sensitivity (that also governs the production of Melatonin) centered about 460nm, while Sodium streetlighting is around 580nm -- much closer to the eyes visual (Photopic) sensitivity than the bluer culprits.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 11:02:29 pm by patric » Logged

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