GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2023) – Public outdoor lighting helps pedestrians and bicyclists stay safer at night. That is why Gainesville City Commissioners adopted new guidelines for sidewalk lights— specifically addressing where they should go, what brightness level to set, and how to place them uniformly while still preserving the local landscape and protecting wildlife.

Today’s adoption of revisions to the lighting ordinance of the city’s Land Development Code (LDC) will improve sidewalks and alleyways. The update means that new projects with areas used by pedestrians and bicyclists will have to meet Florida Department of Transportation lighting standards.

The recommendation is one part of a recently completed Pedestrian Lighting Study prepared by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. The study lays out a plan for cost-effective, safety-focused lighting based on input from City of Gainesville Public Works, Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Regional Utilities, and the Department of Sustainable Development. The Gainesville City Commission’s focus on enhanced outdoor lighting began in July 2022, when Commissioners requested a study in response to neighbors voicing safety concerns.

“This should help increase feelings of safety and also visibility for drivers in vehicles,” said Planner Dan Zhu, who worked on the revised ordinance.

Special Advisor to the City Manager Andrew Persons notes communities across the country are examining lights along sidewalks and walkways as part of urban improvement plans.

“Lighting is a major component of an approach known as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design—or CPTED. It’s how lighting and landscape can make spaces safer. Not only is there better visibility, but we can direct pedestrians and bicyclists to the best routes. We can also look at trimming trees near light poles to take advantage of fixtures already in place,” said Persons.

This is only the first phase of Gainesville’s plan for enhanced outdoor lighting. The next step will use study findings to begin updates for streets, roads, highways, bridges, curbs, curb ramps, crosswalks, bicycle facilities, underpasses, and overpasses used by the public.

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