[VIDEO] Evanston mayoral candidates agree on at least one thing — most Evanstonians like the city’s traditional street lights.

Despite a suggestion from a resident at a candidate forum meeting Tuesday that brighter lights would help prevent crime, the candidates say the old-style lights, designed by Evanston architect Thomas Tallmadge, should stay.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Brighter not always better
    Bright lights do not have a proven record of preventing crime. Improperly designed lights can actually reduce visibility. Fixtures that direct too much light sideways or upwards cause glare, intrude into homes, and wipe out the night sky.

    I don’t see an urgent need to replace our fixtures, and I agree with the consensus on their aesthetic and historic value. If we ever replace them, I hope it is with something sensibly designed and functional, rather that just “anything bright”.

    For more information:

    Making war on light pollution.

    The New Yorker, 20 August, 2007

    Security Lighting: Let’s Have Real Security, Not Just Bad Lighting
    IDA fact sheet

    Introduction to Light Pollution
    IDA practical guide

  2. I strenuously disagree
    Crime went down when the lighting in our neighborhood was improved. Increasing individual security lighting via CDBG security grants has also made a difference.

    To quote a survey of several studies “This review of 13 studies of street lighting interventions in the United Kingdom and United States, spanning four decades, finds that crime decreased by 21% in areas that experienced street lighting improvements compared to similar areas that did not.”

    Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and 75,000 Hours

  3. Candidates: Lights bright enough
    While the Talmedge lights are aesthetically pleasing, and I am for their retention, I hope that in the future the reflector inside the fixture can be modified to throw more light in a downward direction (and not horizontally – which reduces effective safe lighting). The outward thrust of light reduces your safety by dilating your pupils and reducing their effectiveness in viewing anything at night, including a threat. I also find it aesthetically displeasurable. Ideally the fixture would emit a glow through its glass lantern and throw as much light in a downward direction as possible.

  4. I second the down-light idea
    I, too, appreciate the unique look of the Tallmadge lights and their historic significance to Evanston. They are one thing which makes Evanston look like Evanston!

    However, the new park lighting, which complies with dark-skies and can be seen at recently renovated parks like Smith Park, is obviously superior for safety and for night-time aesthetics. Go by or through one of the parks at night, and you can see clearly and feel safe. Walk on our sidewalks at night and you will find yourself squinting to keep out the glare of the street lights and able to see nothing in the shadows.

    I enjoyed star-gazing on my walk home last night, but would have been able to see the stars better AND felt safer if our streetlights sent their light downward instead of outward.

  5. Street Lights
    One sign that the lights are not bright enough is that there have been a number of times all the lights were out from Noyes to Central and Sheridan to Ridge that people did not even know it two and three hours after they should have come on—-I called the police and only once had someone reported it. Likewise from the canal to Greenbay and Central, or Emerson to Noyes and Sheridan to Sherman.
    Drive up Western to Asbury and you have to see the difference good lighting can mean. As it is, it reminds me of Sherlock Holmes movies with the gaslit streets. O.k. Wilmette is much worse but they don’t have our crime rate—though jogging even on their streets is taking your life in your [scraped] hands.
    Try jogging on the sidewalks at night–you are safer in the streets.
    Crime ? Let those who want the dim lights pay the victims !

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