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


  • LIT Lighting Design Awards: Capital Park Landscape, Victoria, BC

    LIT Lighting Design Awards: Capital Park Landscape, Victoria, BC

    December 5, 2022 Located in one of Victoria’s most historic neighborhoods, the Capital Park Mixed-Use Development is made up of seven buildings stretching across three lots and is responsible for nearly an entire city block of Victoria’s downtown core. The project took place over the span of three phases and eight years. The first phase… Read More…

  • Smith + Andersen Toronto 2022 IES Award Winning Projects

    Smith + Andersen Toronto 2022 IES Award Winning Projects

    December 5, 2022 This year, the Smith + Andersen Lighting Team received the Toronto IES 2022 Illumination Section Award and the IESNA Illumination Award of Merit for two projects: Grasett Park (Exterior Lighting Design), and St Paul’s Church (Interior Lighting Design). Each of these Toronto-based projects demonstrate a level of design excellence expected by the… Read More…

New Products

  • Stanpro Retro 5 CCT Selectable Downlight

    Stanpro Retro 5 CCT Selectable Downlight

    December 1, 2022 This Retro LED downlight offers a simple and economical retrofit solution for all traditional recessed applications. Easy installed with a quick connects wire and the E26 socket adaptor, this LED downlight is ideal for retrofitting into most of traditional 4″ and 5″-6″ housings, it will be installed in no time. The color… Read More…

  • Eureka Introduces Tangram-Trace Architectural Luminaire

    Eureka Introduces Tangram-Trace Architectural Luminaire

    November 30, 2022 Eureka announced the release of its Tangram-Trace architectural luminaire. Using bold straps and a prismatic lens, Tangram-Trace creates a dramatic aesthetic and provides high quality, diffused linear illumination. It is intended for modern environments such as conference and executive areas, hospitality applications, or reception spaces. Tangram-Trace luminaires are suspended using four-inch-wide straps,… Read More…