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Publication Detail
An Investigation of the Effect of Street Lighting on Pedestrian Reassurance in Residential Environments
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Unwin J
  • Date awarded:
  • Awarding institution:
    University of Sheffield
  • Language:
Two studies are used to demonstrate the effect of street lighting on pedestrian reassurance in residential environments. Study 1 - Three Stage Interview, asked 53 participants what mattered to them when walking alone after dark asking them to recall their feelings from memory with and without reference to places of their own choosing. The most common combination of reasons for reassurance were perceived access to help, lighting and spatial features. The presence of threatening others was added to this combination in areas participants found unreassuring. An image study demonstrated the resounding effect of lighting and drew attention to the possible simplification of the issue of reassurance in an experiment with tightly controlled variables. Therefore Study 2 took participants into real environments to see what matters there. Study 2 - Residential Street Surveys, took 77 participants to 9 residential streets in Sheffield and asked them to rate their perception of safety among other factors such as the presence of hiding places and perceived access to help. Photometric measurements revealed that the pattern of light expressed in the length and level of areas of low luminance matters to reassurance, as does vertical illumination and the lit appearance of the whole surroundings, not just the path ahead. It was found that low uniformity is acceptable in some circumstances. However street lighting cannot always be presented as a solution to the problem of the fall of darkness as it had less of an effect in environments with low perceived access to help and who else is on the street matters to reassurance regardless of lighting. An effect of seasonal variation in lighting conditions was also found. To summarise, Study 1 found that people think lighting matters, and Study 2 reaffirmed that it does, indicating possible minimum acceptable lighting conditions, which may be different to good practice. Further research is necessary to further explore the circumstances in which these minimum acceptable conditions apply and to define good lighting practice.
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