If you live in a city and walk alone at night, you probably prefer routes that are well-lit over ones that aren't. The same surely holds true even if you live in a more suburban area. Associating light with safety is one of those feelings that's so universal, I can almost hear the entire planet rolling its eyes in collective irritation right now.
But what if extra lighting doesn't actually make us safer?
After the London borough of Wandsworth installed 3,500 new street lights in the mid-1980s as part of its overall crime reduction plan, researchers at the University of Southampton decide to compare reported crimes before and after the upgrade. Despite the fact that increased lighting had been a mainstay of city crime prevention for decades, the researchers found "no evidence ... to support the hypothesis that improved street lighting reduces reported crime."
Cities in the U.S. attempted similar experiments during the same period of time, and got mixed results. . .And this article's bottom line:
The connection between light and crime may not be what most of us think it is, but the connection between light and our sense of safety is exactly what it's always been. . . .But, of course, safety is not the only reason to have street lights. Being able to see where you're going (& be seen by others), especially as an automobile driver, is an important reason. On the other hand, there are good reasons not to have street lights, such as environmental and energy considerations.
. . . so we will continue to debate the issue in Reston and elsewhere.
Click here to read the full article.