Design and Build Lighting

  1. Plan
  2. Design and Build
  3. Sell
  4. Evaluate

Why is it important?

Bicycle lamps are much weaker than those installed in cars – they are meant mostly to make the bicycle noticeable for other users, not to light the route.

  • Lighting can help to navigate the route in the dark – recognise curves, crossings, obstacles, turning points. On a segregated cycle path, retroreflective signs, high-quality horizontal markings and/or surface colour contrasting with the adjacent ground can partially replace lighting.
  • Lighting is particularly important on crossings and sections of the route in mixed traffic. If there are no street lights, strong headlamps of incoming cars can glare and temporarily blind the cyclist, which is both a safety hazard and a discomfort.
  • On the other hand, pedestrians do not have lights at all. At locations where pedestrians can be expected to move along or across the cycle highway, lighting will give the cyclists a chance to notice them.
  • Lighting can be also important on a sunny day, in tunnels and similar locations. Without it, cyclists will not see much coming from the bright outside.

How it can be measured?

The most basic parameters are the percentages of the route equipped with:

  • lighting,
  • horizontal markings.

If there is lighting, it can be quantified as illuminance in lux (lumens per square meter) at surface level. But quality of lighting depends not only on the illuminance itself, but also on how much it differs between neighbouring areas. “Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic” recommends that the difference in illuminance between neighbouring areas (e.g. directly under the lamps and half-way between them) should not exceed 3 times.

The lighting can also be assessed in qualitative (functional) assessment, e.g.:

  • it is possible to follow the route in dark (moonless, overcast) night on bicycle equipped with lights meeting minimum legal requirements
  • all tunnels, crossings and mixed traffic sections are lit;
  • there are edge or median horizontal markings at least on curves and before obstacles;
  • route and warning signs are retroreflective.

Minimum and recommended values

Guidelines/ standard

Minimum illuminance

Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic (CROW, NL)

7 lux

Vademecum Fietsvoorzieningen (Flanders, B)

3 lux (cycle path), 5 lux (with pedestrians), 10 lux (crossings)

How is it related to other criteria?

  • Lack of lighting can be not only road safety, but also a social safety challenge.
  • Lighting is especially important in locations with lower surface quality, with obstacles, on crossings.
  • Lighting can be undesirable in protected nature areas, therefore creating a trade-off between safety and attractivity.

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