Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

Dimensions and Spacing

Space light fixtures to provide uniform distribution and illumination of roadways and sidewalks. Consider the locations of obstruction such as trees or billboards.

Height. Standard poles for sidewalks and bike facilities are 4.5–6 m. Light poles for roadbeds vary according to the street typology and land use. In most contexts, standard heights for narrow streets in residential, commercial, and historical contexts are between 8–10 m. Taller poles between 10 m and 12 m are appropriate for wider streets in commercial or industrial areas.

Spacing. The spacing between two light poles should be roughly 2.5–3 times the height of the pole. Shorter light poles should be installed at closer intervals. The density, speed of travel, and the type of light source along a corridor will also determine the ideal height and spacing.

Light Cone. The light cone has roughly the same diameter as the height of the fixture from the ground. The height will therefore determine the maximum suggested distance between two light poles to avoid dark areas.


Varied Light Sources

There is a wide range of light sources that contribute to the overall illumination of the public realm. Well-designed solutions incorporate different types of light sources such as conventional and decorative fixtures, pole-mounted lights, hanging catenary lights, as well as signage and advertising illumination. Borrowed light spilling from storefront or domestic interiors, lights mounted to building exteriors such as hanging lanterns and facade lighting, and lights from cars may add to street illumination at certain times of the day. However, borrowed illumination may not always be consistent, evenly distributed, or designed for human comfort.


Light Pollution

Focus lighting from light poles and fixtures directly onto the street to minimize glare and light pollution that could negatively impact wildlife and human well-being.

Shielded and cut-off fixtures with energy-efficient light bulbs are more cost-effective as they use less energy by directing the light toward the ground, reducing light pollution.


Energy Efficiency

Low-energy solutions such as Light Emitting Diodes (LED)–minimize energy consumption and light pollution. LEDs have a long lifespan of 50,000–70,000 hours when not operated at high

An emergency power source such as a back-up generator should be considered for lighting along major corridors, especially where electricity supply is unreliable or where storm events may cause power loss.

Alternative power sources such as solar panels or battery-operated lighting are appropriate in areas where power is not always easily accessible, such as informal developments.

Where a complete street lighting network is not feasible, local authorities should consider interim lighting solutions such as portable lanterns. Buildings within certain districts may be required to display or provide spill or signage lighting at night.


Temperatures, Colors, and Ambience

A consistent approach to color temperature should be applied throughout the lighting plan, although different color temperatures can be used to signify different users or types of travel. 3000 Kelvin (K) is often used for pedestrian paths and 5000K for vehicular paths.


Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.