Seeing the light

The York Council is reviewing its street lighting polices this week.

A report from officials says that there are still some contradictions between good lighting standards and the preference of some for a subdued City centre.

The design of lamppost units has certainly been a source of conflict in the historic core for several decades, so sensitivity is needed.

This should fall short of reintroducing gas lighting, artificial smog and Hansom Cabs.

Safety is also a, key concern particularly near the rivers with too many deaths in recent years attributable to people falling in. There is a particularly dangerous area near Lendal bridge where the steps down to the Esplanade are poorly lit. It doesn’t seem to be within the wit and wisdom of experts to find an acceptable solution to problems like this.

But it is not just Conservation Areas which are causing a conflict in priorities. The Councils new policies favour siting lampposts to the rear of a footpath (rather than the kerb edge). This is a sensible move as most moving traffic on the carriageways these days enjoys good vehicle lighting. Few pedestrians routinely carry a torch with them at night.

The policy may also reduce the number of lampposts damaged in road traffic accidents.

The Council proposes to hedge its bets when trees are overgrowing footpaths. Rather than lop the trees, the Council will continue to site lampposts on the kerb edge – providing a challenging chicane for those with poor eyesight and unexpected variety for canines.

Street lighting standards in much of the City have been improved in recent years. Many regard the LED units being fitted as a step in the right direct although occasionally there seem to be patches of darkness in some streets.

The LED lamps are carefully focused to avoid “light pollution”, are more reliable and use less electricity.

In a survey undertaken this month in the Chapelfields estate 91% of residents said street lighting was either “Good” or “Satisfactory” (marginally up from the 90% recorded a year earlier).

So that’s one public service which seems to be getting better.

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