Pedestrian Lighting

Why is pedestrian lighting age-friendly?

As we age, our eyes become less sensitive to light. A sixty-year-old can require three times as much light as a twenty-year-old1 Changes in lighting levels can make it harder to see things clearly, such as curbs, bumps in the pavement, signage, etc. Fears about personal safety and injury can discourage seniors from venturing out independently or keep caregivers from feeling comfortable with young children outdoors. Good lighting may enhance the sense of safety, confidence, and encourage walking and being involved in the immediate community especially in dark areas or those with inadequate lighting. 

Pedestrian lighting specifically shines light on the sidewalk and important to include in street design along with roadway lighting.  Not only is this important for pedestrians to see where they are going, but it also makes it easier for drivers to see pedestrians before they approach an intersection or near the roadway. Lighting can also be used in a more artistic way. For example, businesses or historical buildings can be highlighted, or catenary lighting can be hung over more pedestrian focused areas.

Image of lights on trees an Occidental with pedestrian scaled lighting at night.

Where should pedestrian lighting be prioritized?

Pedestrian lighting should be prioritized in dark areas, in high-priority areas as identified in the City's Pedestrian Lighting Plan, at schools, senior centers, hospitals, parks, at intersections, in urban centers and villages, and at transit hugs and station areas. Pedestrian lighting would be in addition to any roadway lighting for vehicles.

Primary agencies responsible for pedestrian lighting in the right of way

  • Seattle City Light
  • Seattle Department of Transportation
  • King County Metro
  • Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Private development can also provide and maintain pedestrian lighting

Estimated cost*

$$ for a typical block face

* Cost levels:
$ = Under $100,000
$$ = $100,001-$500,000
$$$ = $500,001-$1,000,000
$$$$= Over $1,000,001

Resources

City of Seattle's Pedestrian Lighting Plan
Streets Illustrated Design Guidance
Streets Illustrated Downtown Design Pedestrian Lighting Standards
King County Metro Transit Facilities Guidelines

1Light Requirements from AAA