Streets could be gloomy for years
Most Hamilton streets are below new standards for lighting but residents concerned about the danger could be waiting several years before older suburbs are brought up to standard.
Waikato Times readers have raised concerns about dozens of areas around the city where poor street lighting was considered a safety hazard.
Hamilton City Council is looking at upgrade options but, with the cost of installing 11 modern LED lights on one street being close to $25,000 and the council's current budget for light renewals being $395,000, a city-wide revamp could take years.
This follows new research that says driving at night is almost three times more dangerous in New Zealand than in other developed countries because of our poor street lighting.
A paper presented at the Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference in Wellington recently said installing more-luminous LED lights could reduce after-dark road deaths and injuries by 35 per cent.
Hamilton City Council city transport manager Phil Consedine said he had no evidence to suggest that lighting on Hamilton streets was a significant factor in night-time crashes.
However, the council was "exploring a city-wide programme which would see [the] introduction of more LED lights".
"LED is becoming the preferred option for street lighting in many countries," he said. "It's particularly popular in cities in Europe and the USA as it delivers positive results both in terms of the light shed and lower costs."
Mr Consedine said the white light of LEDs was clearer, and power usage about 50 per cent lower, than traditional sodium bulbs.
Since 2008 council had installed LED lights on 13 Hamilton streets and reported positive results.
Mr Consedine said there was a "hierarchy" of streets in line for upgrades, and those with safety issues and high volumes of traffic were first on the list.
Newer suburbs were also fitted out with modern lighting to meet current standards.
"In older areas, existing street lights meet historic codes which have now been superseded," he said.
Lindsay Cres, Nawton, is one street where residents have raised concerns about the lack of street lighting.
Neighbourhood support group founder Kate Phillips said the street had only four lights and was unsafe at night.
"It's really dark and shadowy."
Recently, a group of youths had gone down the street smashing letterboxes at night and Mrs Phillips said adequate lighting would prevent this kind of thing from happening.
Mr Consedine said a number of the city's older suburbs would benefit from lighting upgrades, which could "include installation of LED technology to replace existing fluorescent systems".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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