(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 379: Lighting for Pedestrians

April 21, 2022

This week we’re joined by Frank Markowitz and Leni Schwendinger to talk about the new book Outdoor Lighting for Pedestrians. We chat about creating legible nighttime spaces, what planners should focus on when programming lighted spaces, and the future of lighting and transportation.

You can listen to the show at Streetsblog USA or our hosting site.

Below is a full unedited transcript:

Jeff Wood (1m 31s):
Frank Markowitz and Leni Schwendinger. When welcome to the talking head ways podcast.

Frank Markowitz (1m 43s):
Thanks. Good to be here. Thanks a lot

Jeff Wood (1m 45s):
Before we get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Frank Markowitz (1m 48s):
So I am a retired urban transportation planner. I worked both for public agencies and consulting firms, mostly as a generalist transportation planner, and most recently in San Francisco for the municipal transportation agency and during my career. And especially at the MTA where I specialized in pedestrian safety for a time, I saw how important outdoor lighting be for pedestrian safety and walkability, but that the lighting expertise was often siloed.

Frank Markowitz (2m 35s):
And in San Francisco, especially lighting street, lighting, design, and operation for done by other agencies. And I really wanted to get smarter about the topic and I didn’t see much material that was good for a transportation planner, but a planner. And so when I retired, I thought this would be a oh, in the knowledge base of the fields that I could fail and also find a really fascinating topic.

Leni Schwendinger (3m 11s):
Hi, I’m Lenny Schwinn dinner. And I’m an urban lighting designer, which means that the lighting design that I do is focused on all the spaces in between buildings, public space, roads, riverfronts bridges, parks, and streets. And I’ve been doing this for quite a long time, and I’m thrilled to have contributed to Frank’s book, the outdoor planning for pedestrians

Jeff Wood (3m 45s):
And Lenny. How did you get into the world of lights and lighting? Like, what was your introduction? What was the impetus for starting to go this route?

Leni Schwendinger (3m 53s):
I started as a filmmaker and I have always been an activist. So I’ve always been involved in community engagement at the same time. So it was kind of one side as a designer artist. The other side is the technical or the engagement or all the things that have to go alongside in my mind with being a designer. So I moved from filmmaking to lighting in fashion, and then artists big projections on buildings to the point where I felt like anything I do. I want it to be available.

Leni Schwendinger (4m 33s):
I want to bring attention to public space at night. And now actually I call myself a nighttime designer. So that’s an added new discipline.

Jeff Wood (4m 43s):
And Frank, what was your introduction to lighting and transportation? You mentioned it briefly, but what set you off on the path?

Frank Markowitz (4m 50s):
Yeah, the main catalyst for coming interested in the topic and eventually writing the book was when I was dealing with pedestrian safety problems in San Francisco. And I came in at a time. I was the first pedestrian program manager for the city of San Francisco at a time when pedestrian safety was often front page news, and sometimes the trouble spots you’d see clearly that most of the fatalities and injuries were at night and lighting would be an obvious factor that that you’d want to look at.

Frank Markowitz (5m 30s):
And so working with the lighting specialists really got me fascinated by the topic and interested in how transportation planners, urban planners or others could work with lighting specialists could work on improving the nighttime environment.

Jeff Wood (5m 53s):
So I want to set the scene a little bit. What is it about nighttime? That’s so magical, but also a bit dangerous?

Frank Markowitz (5m 59s):
Well, of course there’s reduced visibility generally, but also you really are unable to focus on different sites and you don’t have quite the same amount of, of visual information. So you’re more aware of lighting or how a building looks illuminated and their artistic effects. Are they interesting qualities of artificial light Lenny is specializes in that area?

Leni Schwendinger (6m 37s):
Sure. I like to start out talking about night as a place, a darkened place it’s different than the day. So if we’re going to design for the night from street design that incorporates lighting to lighting of streets on its own, because it’s an afterthought. I mean, those are two different things. Okay, whatever we’re going to do for light, we should keep in mind, is it poetry or fear that we’re lighting for and kind of, that’s a provocative statement that allows designers and engineers to think about. Well, there is the poetry side and the magical side, the sort of walking into the wild lights of the city together, or the quiet moments in a park, let’s say the anonymity and yet feeling safe and feeling the poetry of the city, as well as the issues that Frank raises, which are absolutely the, you know, the threshold or the bottom line really is about safety in terms of traffic.

Leni Schwendinger (7m 42s):
But there’s also safety in terms of welcome that we like to talk about.

Jeff Wood (7m 47s):
There’s also a nighttime economy that kind of thrives on this availability of light. We even have nightmares in multiple cities. Now is the night environment, just bars and parties, or is it something else completely that is available to people?

Leni Schwendinger (8m 1s):
Well, I think I’ll take that one. I just came back from a conference, which is called sociable cities and it’s the responsible hospitality Institute. And this is all the nightmares and city council members who are concentrating on night in London. They have nighttime advocates as well as the night mayor, which is a night SAR, who I had breakfast with the other day. And so the nighttime economy, there’s a history here, a little bit of a history. I’m, I’m amazed actually, Jeff, that you’re bringing these things up, but the history is that the first nighttime mayor that was that we know of publicly, who’s really championed the cause is Mirik Milan from Amsterdam.

Leni Schwendinger (8m 46s):
And since then, and this has been, I’m going to say five years just off the cuff, there’s been a whole movement about nighttime economy, or, and it’s started more about bars and behavior and, you know, liquor licensing and that sort of thing. And what’s happened, which is tremendous, is we’ve broadened the scope to mean all night everywhere, everybody. So for example, myself, I’m, I’m focusing on night shift workers and there are many other people who are there’s night studies. What’s interesting here is that it’s not lighting designers who are involved in this movement.

Leni Schwendinger (9m 30s):
And Frank and I have had some good conversations about, you know, legibility in the cities and how to me legibility leads planning for the night.

Jeff Wood (9m 41s):
Well, let’s chat about the book outdoor lighting for pedestrians. I know the book started out as a series of PowerPoints, but what was missing from the discussion that made you want to write a guide book on lighting and, and keeping in mind that legibility portion of thinking about, you know, nighttime environments and pedestrianism and transportation overall?

Frank Markowitz (9m 58s):
Well, Jeff you’re right, that the book started out with a couple of webinars that I helped organize and presented that were mainly for transportation planners and engineers on the topic generally, but focusing, especially on the traffic safety part of the topic. And there was a lot of interest in these webinars were well received by the transportation planners and engineers, but I felt that there was really a need to go beyond, to go a little bit more deeply into the topic, not just a course on the safety facts, but the other potential benefits, the other cost or potential adverse impacts of lighting and to broaden it certainly beyond just traffic safety safety for pedestrians crossing the street.

Frank Markowitz (10m 54s):
When I was working for San Francisco MTA, and we would look at pedestrian safety, we focus almost entirely on pedestrian involved collisions with motor vehicles, but it realized later that really falls and tripping is a very big concern. Concerned about personnel security or crime is also important even to the transportation system. Of course, if people are discouraged about using public transit, because they’re concerned about crime that has a big impact. And then there are the other aspects that we talk about that are very important, the sense of place attractiveness of the nighttime environment, the contribution of lighting to the local economy.

Frank Markowitz (11m 44s):
And those were all topics that in a one hour webinar, we weren’t able to really deal with that. I thought needed more discussion.

Jeff Wood (11m 53s):
How many hours of webinar with the taken probably a lot, right? Yeah. Well, what was available in terms of resources for transportation, urban planning on lighting? I know that at the end of chapter two, you list a lot of lighting guides. We know that in our sphere, there’s the Nash tow and other guides are very autocentric, as opposed to say the next-door guide. Do you find that that’s a drawback in lighting discussion as well? The lack of materials, but also a focus on specifically like an Ash guide versus maybe a more urban focused guidebook?

Frank Markowitz (12m 23s):
Yeah. So first off the main resources on lighting were really written for roadway, lighting engineers, and they’re pretty intimidating, you know, the 500 page manuals and they may be issued by organizations that I really didn’t deal with as a transportation planner or an urban planner, whether it’s the illuminating engineering society, IAS, or even a transportation group, Ash toe, which, yeah, it’s not as urban oriented. And there was also relatively limited coverage of the topic in guide books that I was familiar with for a designing for pedestrians issue by Napa auto, even, or other organizations lighting is often not given the full treatment that I felt deserves.

Frank Markowitz (13m 23s):
Part of that the, that people often just don’t recognize immediately that low light conditions apply. You know, not just at night, Ty, you know, not just at 8:00 PM or 11:00 PM, but depending on the latitude and, and the season, of course, it can be pretty dark at 5:00 PM or when kids are so walking around. And that’s one factor that’s often overlooked. I think the importance of lighting effecting the environment, the attractiveness and the comfort of the pedestrian environment is also important.

Frank Markowitz (14m 4s):
I mean, streetlight poles for example, are important pieces of street furniture and themselves, and, and they, for opportunities to they’re going back, you know, decades to put flower baskets on them or banners as he’s often do. And now there’s more high-tech attachments that you can. So that is also often, it felt overlooked by the transportation planning street design guides that I was familiar with.

Leni Schwendinger (14m 34s):
I’d love to kind of piggyback on that the street poles, first of all, are the armature infrastructural armature for smart cities. So they’re valuable. And then actually jump to the beginning about what Frank was saying that it’s, under-recognized the contribution of light is under-recognized underrated and just, it’s just, you know, people, things are more important in this world, right? Material, culture, point to things, sell things, you have things you can touch things. So light itself, and I’m not talking about the lighting fixtures necessarily, but the ambience then the atmosphere is that light provides.

Leni Schwendinger (15m 19s):
And then therefore the designers who create those synography fees are under-recognized. And so, you know, what I am really strong on is integrated disciplines. So street designers and architects and landscape architects working together to integrate lighting and also to posit new, more innovative types of lighting. So to tie together the armature and the smart lighting and the more innovative creative let’s recognize lighting issue moments, the idea of creating spaces that are evocative, that are friendly, that are inspiring as well as safe when you step off the curb, as well as safe before you trip on the pavement, all of this in a sense leads to the phrase walkability.

Leni Schwendinger (16m 19s):
So walkability is again, such an integrated issue, right? So I love Frank’s idea of like tripping over the sidewalk. I love that because that boom designed the pavement differently, you know, employ different types of pavement, do a better plus what are we doing on the sidewalks? How interesting is it? Where do we want to go? Are the shopfronts illuminated? You know, what about that street corridor at night? I think these are all issues that are so important. And yet hopefully with the book and lots of efforts about nighttime, we can kind of put it more front and center. I mean, that’s why I’m pretty excited about being on this podcast so that, you know, planners and architects can think, you know, maybe we want to start with lighting.

Leni Schwendinger (17m 9s):
What about the nighttime? Let’s start with lighting, let’s see what that should be and how it will contribute to the design of the street.

Jeff Wood (17m 15s):
It’s so interesting. You talk about kind of the nature of light and how it’s there. You can see it obviously, and it exists, but it’s not a solid, it’s not something you can touch necessarily, but it can create places. It can create a space that can, you know, make it so that you feel like you’re enveloping or you feel like you’re able to go to a certain place or not able to go to another place because of whether it’s dark or lighter other ways. And so I think that that’s interesting from that perspective, thinking about it kind of in the abstract of, it’s not a solid object, but it does create place.

Frank Markowitz (17m 47s):
And there are a lot of different aspects of the light that affect how it changes the environment. And it’s not just the sheer amount of light, the illuminance or luminance levels, the amount of light, but factors like the glare or color rendition, how accurately colors show up. Those are also important factors how the lighting is used, we own, and France’s made a major effort to add lighting, to create a very attractive nighttime environment and focus slightly on points of his store interest or visual interest, and to tailor the lighting to the particular characteristics of the sites that are being lit.

Frank Markowitz (18m 40s):
And I mentioned in the book, urban park lighting, where they’ll try to vary the lighting characteristics, such as color, appearance, correlated, color, temperature of lighting, depending whether it’s shining on a historic feature arc or it’s more the, the vegetation. So there’s a lot to consider to determine how effective lighting is.

Jeff Wood (19m 10s):
Well, I just had no idea that there were so many ways to measure light until I read the book. There’s just so many ways to measure and understanding the importance of things like contrast. I mean, you know, for folks that are listening, what is contrast and why is it so important for transportation planning and lighting generally?

Frank Markowitz (19m 26s):
So that’s a good point. Jeff, there are a number of different metrics and factors. Contrast is, is one is how well the object of interest like a pedestrian is showing up against the background and positive contrast is when say the pedestrian appears brighter than the background negative when it’s the reverse. If the background is brighter than say the pedestrian and all those different factors or metrics could be really important. I mentioned, how is San Francisco? I deal with pedestrian safety issues, hotspots there’s one intersection or a member dealing with a high level of nighttime pedestrian injuries and fatalities market and Castro street intersection, which is Harvey milk Plaza.

Frank Markowitz (20m 18s):
And also a location where there’s a lot of industrial activity, sort of the gay rights, the center of San Francisco, but any case I consulted a roadway, lighting engineer, and express concern about the lighting at that location. And to my non-expert eyes, it seemed like there was a problem. Just my picking out peds crossing the street, and this engineer went out and measured light levels. Presumably like illumined answer the amount of light falling on crosswalks and pedestrian.

Frank Markowitz (21m 2s):
Then anyway, he came back and said, it’s fine meets light standards, but that can be missing. A lot of other factors. Contrast can be one, perhaps the pedestrians have a lot of light, but then there’s also so much light in the background that they’re kind of washed out, but can be the layer that’s the drivers are getting a lot of unwanted light in their, in their eyes. Often there’s a, a problem that they crosswalk is pretty brightly lit, but the street corner. So under lit that pedestrian seem to pop into view and suddenly, you know, you don’t get any real warning. You don’t know at nighttime, if you’re a driver that is a pedestrian crossing until they’re actually in the crosswalk.

Frank Markowitz (21m 48s):
And so there are a lot of different factors that need to be considered.

Leni Schwendinger (21m 53s):
I just want to put a plug in for lighting designers. You know, I do, I do have a little anecdote where I say, you know, give to people to standards and one is a engineer and the other is a designer and they may come up with completely two different solutions, which match the standards. So competency is one thing we better all be competent, but the psychological responses, the nuances of as you’re calling it, measurements, uniformity, lack of uniformity, you know, texture, including brightness, right? But not just brightness all have to do with a good lighting design. And, you know, I think the book is going to be super helpful so that engineers get a sense of the nuances and get a sense of the complexity so that they do begin to request a lighting designer on the job.

Leni Schwendinger (22m 47s):
You know, let’s collaborate with a lighting designer for a basis of design for the, to get those nuances on the page and into some sort of early specifications. So that, that is a set level of threshold, ASIS of design. I mean, I’ve worked on major engineering projects, subways and bridges and things like that. And really honestly, lighting engineer is going to come up generally with a different solution unless they’ve had design experience.

Jeff Wood (23m 15s):
Well, I think a lot of people imagine that, you know, when you’re building a street and you’re putting up street lights, you’re done, oh yeah, you have to have a street light there and then you put it up and it’s finished and there’s no other considerations. And necessarily, it seems like that might be the engineering way, but there are a lot of things to consider. So one of the things that I think the book does really well, is it kind of delves into like, what are the questions that people should be asking themselves when they’re thinking about designing a space for cars or for people, what are the questions designers should ask themselves when thinking about, you know, transportation lighting before picking and installing a system, or even before, you know, going into a design of it. I mean, what are the things that folks should be lining up on their, to do list in order to think about this more intelligently than say, just putting in the light pole and then you’re done

Frank Markowitz (23m 57s):
Good question, Jeff, the designer of new lighting needs to be considering the facility, the environment that needs of the pedestrian. What are the land uses the attractions in the area? What are other aspects of the street environment? Whether there could be street trees that could affect the lighting. There could be ambient lighting, a high level of private lighting right next to the street lights or the pedestrian scale lights that may affect their effectiveness. There can be particular adverse impacts need to be careful for in a book, goes into the effects on flora and fauna of light.

Frank Markowitz (24m 46s):
And sometimes there are sensitive species that could be effected by lighting. The designer also considers the equipment itself like a light poles and our lades possible obstruction. And especially for people with mobility or visual impairments recently heard a complaint from my, a transportation engineer was talking about ornamental lighting installed recently in his hometown on a arterioles street where the light poles were not put in the curb zone, the street furniture zone, but were offset quite a bit.

Frank Markowitz (25m 30s):
So it’s creating kind of a zigzag pattern or almost feeling like an obstacle course if you’re, if you’re going down and kind of the streets. So there’s a lot to consider beyond just the light levels. And of course, to consider how things may change vegetation may grow land uses, or the ambient lighting may change over time.

Leni Schwendinger (25m 55s):
I always like to say that lighting is like a plant. You have to take care of it. I mean, beyond the normal, you know, let’s change out the light bulb. We don’t even have light bulbs anymore. We have diodes, but aside from changing the light source and you know, if a car hits a light pole and you have to replace pole aside from that, there is concerns to measure the output because it does change over the years. There’s concerns to relamp and there are, you know, electrical issues that could change. So I think you’re right though, Jeff people do sort of think of just, just plunk it down.

Leni Schwendinger (26m 37s):
And it’s a light pole with a light Illuminare at the end, by the way. So it’s a street light pole, there’s a luminaire and there is the pole. The pole is always the armature and it’s definitely underrated what kind of wiring? And now, you know, the potential for devices to measure, you know, pollution and parking and all that stuff. I did work on a smart lighting report for a manufacturer that was just shocked. They didn’t really care about the lighting. They only cared about the armature. I mean, honestly, when we did the work together was kind of like, what can it hold? What should shape be for the pole and how the wire work and you know, how many devices can we put on and this and that.

Leni Schwendinger (27m 19s):
And it was like, well, by the way, what’s the quality of light being emitted. So it’s a funny, kind of blind spot.

Jeff Wood (27m 27s):
There’s a great diagram in the book about that. I was like, I didn’t thought about this before, but the light source at the top and luminaire, it comes out and there is an angle at which it goes down to the ground. And then if the trees in the way there’s needs for tree trimming, even if the tree is on the sidewalk on the other side of the street, there’s a necessity to, if you want to keep the area illuminated to make sure that the trees are trimmed and those types of things. So it’s the area around like you were mentioning. It’s not just that. I want to go back to another thing that you talked about Frank. And I think it’s a really important point, especially for transportation folks, is this idea that pedestrians come out of nowhere, you hear this all the time, you know, from folks who ended up hitting a deer or hitting a person, I think this was actually the experience that the Uber driver had when they killed Elaine Herzberg in Phoenix, Arizona from the autonomous vehicle testing that was going on.

Jeff Wood (28m 15s):
She came out of nowhere. So even, you know, coming out of nowhere, it happens to autonomous vehicles as well. But this is an issue of they’re not coming out of nowhere. They’re obviously there, it’s an issue of light. It’s an issue of contrast. It’s an issue of whether you can see them or not. And the design of the systems that allow us to operate at night without danger. And I thought that that’s kind of an interesting and important point to share because it’s something that when I was reading the book, I was like, oh, this is something that’s important because I hear this all the time. They came out of nowhere. No, they didn’t. It’s how things are designed.

Frank Markowitz (28m 46s):
Right? I think there’s more sensitivity to that among the lighting specialists and the people who are doing the research and manual. For example, there’s a metric surround ratio that is increasingly being used, which is to look at the illuminations levels on the shoulder, on the sidewalk and how they relate to the roadway lighting. And that’s in the solid state roadway lighting guide that is produced mainly by a Virginia tech transportation Institute.

Frank Markowitz (29m 27s):
And that guide also talks about LEDs, light, emitting diodes that are the solid state lighting that is completely taking over for the older style, like high pressure sodium, but the led lighting, while there are a lot of advantages, if you use them in the old fashion way, you just replaced one for one, the LEDs have a very focused beam. And if it’s focused just on the roadway, then the sidewalks are not getting lift even to the level that they were with the older, say high pressure, sodium lighting. So you’d have more of a problem with peds not being visible until they’re actually in the roadway.

Frank Markowitz (30m 14s):
So this guide really points to the need to pay attention to that issue.

Jeff Wood (30m 20s):
Let’s talk about light pollution. I’m putting quotes around it because you all say obtrusion. And I think that’s a good distinction. One of my favorite experiences was a summer camp in west Texas, basically outside of Fort Davis and the MacDonald’s observatory in far west, Texas. And you can see the stars and all the beautiful clouds of the universe, but should cities really worry about light obtrusion? And what’s important to consider when you’re thinking about lighting in a city versus maybe lighting in the countryside, especially when it comes to road lights, street lights, all, everything that we’re talking about today,

Leni Schwendinger (30m 52s):
You know, my humble opinion is that both of truing light anywhere, whether it’s like trespass into somebody’s apartment window or a garage light going on it, you know, the dead of night, but you know, you’re still awake, but like trespass or whether it’s glare, as you mentioned, which hurts the eyes. That’s basically the definition like that hurts your eyes or sky glow, which is the thing that we’re talking about with the observatory and the sky. I think, you know, personally, and I, I take the stand now, you know, there’s some of us who are very metropolitan city focused that, you know, it’s important for us to help people get out of their places in the evening.

Leni Schwendinger (31m 36s):
It’s important to have activities in public space and the evening can be another, a third place, a place that people can go. So for me, the question of sky glow is second to lighting that is safe and inspired for human beings. There are, you know, with the model lighting ordinances that we have, you know, conservation areas for wildlife, I’ve designed in Shanghai, a long, long park, where part of it was conservation space for nocturnal animals. Then it was a discussion of, you know, should we have some light in case if we have no light, would you be perfect? Then the park goers may fall into that stream, you know, or might hurt themselves.

Leni Schwendinger (32m 21s):
But if we have a little bit of light, but oh, on the other hand, they might not go there at all, which is what we want. And then if we have some light, is that safer? So there’s always that kind of conflict anyway. And personally, the end of my statement here is really that it’s, site-specific, everything’s local, you know, you would just really have to look in to the highest need, how light and can help.

Frank Markowitz (32m 46s):
Well, there’s good points, Lenny. There are a lot of tools. I mean, that you touched on and physical means to try and reduce light pollution or an unnecessary and harmful light. I mean, there can be lighting ordinances that you referred to regulating the amount of light. There are going to be physical shielding, how LEDs are used, which I mentioned, the more focus beam can be also can be helpful. Well, it can be helpful in terms of reducing say light trespass on an adjacent residence, but it can also be a problem that more subject to glare if not properly designed.

Frank Markowitz (33m 34s):
And pedestrians often complained a lot about glare. So luckily there are measures and tools that can be used to try and reduce these harmful side effects of lighting,

Leni Schwendinger (33m 52s):
You know, to get into the technical stuff for gem. I’m glad you just did. It’s basically comes down to optical and mechanical. So the shields or the optics, but I’m, you know, I’m standing on the ground for people who should be using the Knight in a public way.

Jeff Wood (34m 8s):
That’s interesting, you know, especially about trespass because there was an article yesterday in route 50 where they’re talking about the, kind of the public health of the pandemic and whether you’re a night owl, an early bird, and there was a piece talking about how during the pandemic night owls have gotten a bit of break from the early bird bird world. And a lot of this I feel like has to do with how light impacts, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, whether light comes in and wakes you up, or whether it’s this annoying thing that happens to you in the morning, because you stayed up because your body is more used to the nighttime. And so that’s interesting part about, you know, the transfer from the high pressure sodium to LEDs. That’s the interesting discussion about how the light trespass impacts people who might be sleeping in bedrooms that get this kind of light that comes in, that they didn’t ask for.

Jeff Wood (34m 56s):
They didn’t want behind my house. There’s an apartment complex that has this really bright light on, and you can see it basically throughout the night. And luckily I’m a, I’m kind of a night owl and I can fall asleep, but I can imagine where somebody would get that through their back window. And they just have to, you know, basically put a tinfoil over there or their window or something that just could, you know, black it out because it was really frustrating. But the public health aspect is really an interesting part of this discussion as well. I imagine.

Leni Schwendinger (35m 21s):
Yeah. And it’s a great controversy or what we call a conflict and you’re talking about chronotypes, which is the night owl versus the morning, low LARC. I’m a night owl myself. You know, I’d be happy to start all my days at three o’clock in the afternoon, but I basically, I compromise say 11 or 12 it’s and you know, there isn’t, well, there isn’t one rule there really isn’t and there are many, many books. It’s a lot of literature on nighttime and sleep and ancient, not ancient, but historic habits. I mentioned the second sleep earlier. It’s just, you know what, it’s so damn interesting. And the point is that lighting leads the way, you know, we’re, we’re making it possible to enjoy the night to experience.

Leni Schwendinger (36m 10s):
I mean, okay, I hear people out there arguing that, you know, put your flashlight down, just enjoy the moon. The full moon is the half foot candle. You know, that’s fantastic. I’ve been in the country as well, but I think we’re pedestrian lighting occurs in places that have pedestrians, not hikers. I’d like to hear. Frank mentioned something about, you know, what we haven’t covered in a way is, you know, what we didn’t, we just glossed over is like, is there enough pedestrian lighting? I mean, in New York, the light, as Frank was saying, you know, it was either back spill from a street light, like errand light onto the sidewalk or front spill all the way to that sidewalk from the light across the street.

Leni Schwendinger (36m 54s):
But I don’t know of a whole lot of specifications or guidelines that even talk about pedestrian light. It’s almost always automobile light. What do you think Frank?

Frank Markowitz (37m 4s):
So agree, Lenny, that that often pedestrian scale lighting is overlooked and those are the shorter poles, maybe 10 to 18 foot high that are spaced more frequently say every 50 feet or, or so, and pedestrian scale lighting, which primarily for the, the sidewalk that is often really appreciated by the estrogens and an important part of complete street redesign. And that is really an area that I think needs more attention and research.

Frank Markowitz (37m 45s):
Like there’s not a lot out there on really on guidance on when is pedestrian scale lighting especially needed and helpful. And how much of an impact does it have on falls on traffic related injuries?

Jeff Wood (38m 8s):
Well, the, what you mentioned, the book is reassurance that comes up a number of times. Can you explain reassurance to folks? It’s an interesting concept.

Frank Markowitz (38m 15s):
So reassurance is the pedestrians feeling of confidence when walking alone at night, that’s how thick the primary coiner user of the term defines it. There are a lot of similar terms, but if you can refer to the pedestrians comfort level related to a tripping hazards to crime, really basic level, to being able to see and know where they are and feel confident that they’re going the right path.

Jeff Wood (38m 48s):
I’m curious what you think the future of lighting design is. And the future of lights. There’s so many discussions that are a little bit futuristic. I mean, there’s, there’s these ideas of bioluminescent sidewalks and stuff like that. But what is the real future of lighting in cities?

Frank Markowitz (39m 2s):
I think that lighting will be more tailored to the environment, potentially automated vehicles, who knows whether they’re gonna take over, but the need for, for lighting to avoid motor vehicles crashing into crossing paths that may be reduced, but there will still be the need for lighting soap. Pedestrians can find their way and avoid tripping and falling. And then with electric scooters example, increasing in popularity, there’s even more need for that aspect of safety for lighting.

Frank Markowitz (39m 43s):
And I think we we’ve discussed some of the other aspects and values of, of lighting. I think there’ll be more attention to that, to using lighting in a more subtle and varied way, both for the illumination effects and the type of equipment, or whether it’s a historic or futuristic or artistic. So I, I think there’s a lot of potential for improvement in customizing lighting to really increase the benefits and minimize any adverse impacts and tailor it to the particular environment. Lenny has worked on a guide book specifically for smart lighting projects.

Frank Markowitz (40m 26s):
And the book does get into smart lighting a good bit. And there are three aspects of smart lighting that I see, and this is, this is really increasing. So there’s adaptive lighting where they illumination levels or characteristics of the light can be varied. According to the environment, like as there are more pedestrians than the light levels can, can go up, there’s connected or networked lighting, which is connecting the streetlights to a central location or computer. So you can have an improved control and for maintenance that he could quickly find out.

Frank Markowitz (41m 8s):
For example, if there is an outage and then the third category is smart poles, smart city applications, where it’s not really about the illumination itself, but it’s about the value of Paul is being used to how sensors or video or even E V chargers are a electronic information, that sort of thing. So there’s a lot of potential go there. And if you’re, if you’re a city doing city-wide or district lighting, for example, you really need to think, what are we going to do? If anything, for smart lighting.

Jeff Wood (41m 50s):
Yeah. Lending brought that up a little bit. I thought that was really interesting where you said basically that, you know, cities don’t really care about the lights they’d want the pole don’t want the access to the space,

Leni Schwendinger (42m 0s):
The armature, the structure, to be able to sensors. The one thing I would, I would add on top of that. Cause I thought that was a great summary, is that what we’ve seen in, in research we’ve done is as cities convert to led, which is happening in a lot of cities are buying back their light poles from utilities. So, you know, this whole ownership question as well, it is recommended that they look into the possibilities of smart lighting because they can at least add the provision of the wiring for future smart lighting and smart city devices, even if they don’t want or cannot be budget reasons, do it now.

Leni Schwendinger (42m 44s):
But we do find that that’s a turning point. And so the other part to that is, as Frank just said, is to create a lighting plan, a strategy, a light strategy for their cities. And that’s not something we really talked about in the book, but you know, when it’s not done that much in the U S an overall master plan with light is a thing. And if you are converting to led, why not focus on the needs of the entire city and the district and the future lighting as well as smart lighting, which is bound to come around.

Jeff Wood (43m 22s):
Yeah, it’s so interesting. You know, we just talked to Dr. Assault BMR IX from the university of new south Wales. And what she said was talking about underground cities and having underground city plans. And so I think this is something that, you know, the, the overall plan for, you know, a certain implementation strategy is really important, whether it’s underground cities, whether it’s lighting, whether it’s transportation plans, et cetera, having a plan that, that brings everything together instead of piece by piece or piecemeal or in silos, I think is really going to be really important. A couple of numbers that I think were really important that you mentioned in the book, you mentioned the book, the LA spends about $188 per year on each street light, and then led saves money. You also mentioned that by 2035, we will be able to buy it with LEDs are implemented of throughout the country.

Jeff Wood (44m 7s):
We’ll be able to save around a trillion dollars. I think it was like 900 and something billion, but I thinking of trillions pretty close. I’m also curious though, that’s an interesting number. I’m also curious what we run the risk of. If w if all these lights are more efficient, will we try to have more lights while we try to, because we are saving money, do you just build more of them? And so you have the same amount of energy consumed. You’d have the same amount of even more light produced. You might end up saving money in the start, but then you spend that money on something else.

Frank Markowitz (44m 35s):
Well, hopefully there’ll be a lot of thought to where you would add lighting at and B if the only, the most effective needed locations besides the change to LEDs, but related to that is that the smart lighting and control can increase the savings as well. And the federal department of energy has been pushing for greater use of that. Where, you know, you could, for example, reduce lighting levels based on less need that’s detected, for example, more efficient lighting patterns.

Frank Markowitz (45m 21s):
So smart lighting can really increase the savings that LEDs themselves will bring.

Leni Schwendinger (45m 30s):
So it’s a funny thing. What Jeff said about, is there the potential of more lighting since we’ve saved both in energy and in maintenance, basically, that’s a big conversation by the way, there are some people, you know, on, in my sort of communication lines that are saying that that is happening in Europe, or so again, the education about lighting, which we’re doing right now is super important to take to heart in terms of energy saving. I can see a lot in the future. And one is that more creative lighting will be incorporated in the future. I have a pilot that I worked on with pneumo.

Leni Schwendinger (46m 11s):
We’ve got concepts for light and transportation or mobility rather that have to do with intersections and building corners. And it’s really about, again, legibility and also signaling pedestrians and cars and more creative and mixed in with, you know, standard pedestrian lighting. For example, I have a dream that one day private lighting that is light, that is on the side of a building or from shopfronts that becomes more ascendant. As we understand lighting better will supersede light pole lighting by sensors. So in other words, light pole lighting would go down when private lighting comes up, because it’s just, it’s just so much better for travelers and pedestrians at night.

Leni Schwendinger (46m 59s):
And then I also think that it process-wise as we build these creative possibilities and prove that they’re safe and prove that they’re inspiring, get people out at night, that more pilots will be incorporated with more community engagement. So for me, a pilot, isn’t just, you know, put up a street pole and get people to send in the survey and say, well, I know that was, that lighting was too cool, or that lighting was too warm, or that was too glary. No, you work with people before pilot. You try some stuff out, obviously not just a light pole, but, and you, and you develop it with a community group that is committed, that you’ve been able to commit.

Leni Schwendinger (47m 40s):
And that way we can try new things. And then finally, I am seeing a lot of public art with light and more high quality where municipals are willing to conserve and maintain light projects from artists. You, you just can’t imagine. There just wasn’t anything like that when I started, I mean, really, it’s amazing how that’s grown. So those are my ideas about the future.

Jeff Wood (48m 8s):
Nice, well, hopefully in the future, folks will get the book as well. And so that they can plan all of these things and hire nighttime designers. That would be helpful too, right? The book is outdoor lighting for pedestrians, where can folks find it if they want to get a copy

Frank Markowitz (48m 21s):
It’s available on Amazon and all the major online books, sellers, and published by Routledge. And you can find it if you Googled Markowitz lighting.

Jeff Wood (48m 35s):
Yeah. Will we tell folks to go to their local bookstore and ask for it? Also, you can go to indie bound or bookshop.org, and you can connect to your local bookstore as well. If you’re not a big fan of the forest company. And so folks can get the book and it’s really great. I hope folks will get a chance to check it out. Especially if they’re thinking about doing any outdoor lighting design, especially from an urban transportation perspective. I mean, this is a subject that I felt like I didn’t know too much about. Hopefully the questions we asked were good ones because it’s not something that I focused on a lot, but I think that I will in the future. And I hope that others will as well. Well, Franklin Lenny, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time

Frank Markowitz (49m 11s):
Thank you very much, Jeff.

Listen to the Talking Headways Podcast


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