Outdoor Lighting for Pedestrian Safety and Enjoyment

LDS 7 1 magiclite ian 400

Jan 12, 2021

By Ian R. Smith, Magic Lite VP Business Development 

Lighting plays a major role in creating thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces. Recently Metropolis Magazine hosted a webinar on the topic, which they kicked off by asking: How can we light outdoor spaces strategically and responsibly to support and nurture good health – especially in the wake of COVID-19?

We thought that was a great question and wanted to share some key takeaways from the presentation as well as our ‘Magic Lite take’ on them:

1. Prioritizing pedestrians

Most pedestrian spaces are not lit with walkers in mind. In fact, even sidewalks are lit for cars more than they are pedestrians. But, as roads and other urban areas are converted into pedestrian-focused spaces, there’s a real opportunity to leverage lighting to both ‘light the way’ – and make the journey pleasant for those on foot.

In our opinion, achieving this is all about creating uniform illumination – and avoiding the ‘high highs’ and ‘low lows’ created by less subtle options (ie: floodlights). LEDs offer more tailored and controllable solutions via selection of optics and dimming.

2. Modifying open spaces in the age of social distancing

Thanks to COVID-19, all kinds of outdoor public spaces are being redesigned to discourage large gatherings and encourage social distancing.

Lighting absolutely has a role to play in this transformation. In our view, it’s less about creating a ton of functional light and more about delineating spaces – like benches or separate seating areas – in settings like parks, waterfronts and public squares. 

3. Considering circadian rhythms

Circadian rhythms are a hot topic right now, which we plan on covering in more detail in a future article. But for the purposes of this conversation, if we’re thinking about ways to make outdoor spaces more pleasant and inviting for people, the last thing we want to do is flood them with unnaturally blue lights in the evening.

In addition to being downright unpleasant, it can have a negative effect on people’s circadian rhythms and therefore their sleep. A warmer colour temperature is definitely the way to go for evening illumination. (If you’d like to read more about circadian rhythms as it relates to lighting, the Light Research Centre – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is an excellent resource.)


Related Articles

Changing Scene

  • New Podcast Collaboration with Lighting Controls Association and NAILD

    March 24, 2023 The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and the Lighting Controls Association have announced a collaboration on a new podcast seeking to raise awareness and expertise in lighting controls. About the Podcast Produced every two weeks for audio listening on popular apps or watching on a dedicated YouTube channel, it is hosted by… Read More…

  • DLC Non-Energy Benefits

    Evaluating the Non-Energy Benefits of Advanced Networked Lighting Controls

    March 24, 2023 The Benefits As energy efficient LED technology has become mainstream, the quantifiable gains from controlling smaller lighting loads may appear to have diminished at first glance. The truth is, while direct energy savings from controls alone represents a smaller portion of savings compared to the savings from LEDs, the use of networked… Read More…


  • Light at Night and the Inequality Gap: Progress and Challenges

    Light at Night and the Inequality Gap: Progress and Challenges

    March 9, 2023 In December 2021, the DLC hosted a webinar that explored issues related to “Bridging the Inequality Gap” in outdoor nighttime lighting. The conversation introduced research on how lighting contributes to discrimination and inequity in underrepresented communities, and generated heightened interest among attendees. To follow up on the research and work presented, the DLC sat… Read More…

  • LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    December 19, 2022 Prize(s) Winners in Light Art Project Company Integral Group Lead Designers Ellie Niakan + Catherine Chan Photo Credits Catherine Chan Completion Date December 21, 2021 Project Location New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada Although appearing as solitary, trees are connected to one another through vast underground systems known as mycorrhizal networks. Through these hidden systems—a symbiotic relationship between plants… Read More…

New Products

  • Introducing LED-integrated Wine Rack System from MP Lighting

    Introducing LED-integrated Wine Rack System from MP Lighting

    March 23, 2023 Wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and casual appreciators alike can all agree: wine is delicate. The naturally occurring chemicals in the wine can be disturbed by many environmental factors, mainly heat, lighting, and vibrations. To aid in the prevention of these factors spoiling the wine, wine racks can be installed. LED-integrated wine rack systems… Read More…

  • Punctuate with Hyphen. New architectural luminaire system by Fluxwerx

    Punctuate with Hyphen. New architectural luminaire system by Fluxwerx

    March 23, 2023 Fluxwerx makes a break from the ordinary with the launch of Hyphen—a family of discrete recessed and surface luminaires to design, define and leave your mark. With Portal, Fluxwerx pushed past conventional downlights and cylinders in our drive to give designers new and differentiated aesthetic options with innovative optics that maximize visual… Read More…