The river trail at night

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After leaving the BikeFest party, I biked north via my usual path, the river trail from the 7th St Bridge up to Millvale. It was a beautiful night, and what with the ball game just letting out (about 10:30), there were a lot of people on the trail up to about the Heinz Lofts area.

What irritated me was the lighting. I could actually see better without all those lights on and near River Ave than with them. Whatever their intended purpose, what they mainly provide for me was blinding glare so that I had trouble seeing where I was going. (Yes I have a modern bike light and was using it.) I had very little trouble seeing people where it was dark, but where it was bright I either could not see them or couldn’t tell which way they were walking. To me, that’s a safety hazard.

The worst types of lights are the box-shaped fixtures on the sides of buildings that dump light almost straight sideways. Next worst are floods pointed diagonally. A close third are omnidirectional “yard lights”, one of which is on a small structure right on the path a little beyond the 16th St Bridge. The worst properties for garish, glaring light are a couple of industrial buildings just beyond the Heinz Lofts.

In contrast, there is a parking lot along River Ave, a ways before the 31st St Bridge, with very good lighting, i.e., fixtures that point straight down, illuminating just the lot, not everything 300 yards around it. Light trespassing onto the trail there is almost non-existent.

So what? Well, bad lighting is a safety hazard. It wastes energy. It lights up the night sky so we can’t see the stars. (that’s the astronomer in me coming out). But the main thing for me is not wanting to run anyone over.

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