Interesting. A full review of all comments now on the three websites that address whether to light the SW Path (City of Madison, Isthmus DailyPage site and Bikies ListServ), discloses that most commentators oppose, rather than support, fixed lighting and that, of those expressing support, many expect any fixed lighting to be low-profile and/or solar-powered.
The City proposes fixed lighting, at $250K to $300K over a three mile span, to increase use and safety. Yet it says the Path needs that lighting because its use is far more than expected, so the first reason requires more explanation. If the goal is to take cars off the road, data must be collected to determine if fixed lighting would actually increase bike commuters during nighttime hours – with the major drop in nighttime commuters plainly being weather-related rather than light-related.
Advocates confirm that the “safety” concern is not crime-related (and, indeed, studies show that lighting a previously darkened area can substantially increase crime). It instead boils down to the fact that some traveling the SW Path at nighttime are not visible because they bike, walk or run in ways that make them hard to see.
The solution to this real problem is not, at least at this time, fixed lighting of the Path. In fact, fixed lighting on the path could cause walkers/runners to stop carrying their own lights (which could cause collisions with bikers whose night vision is eliminated through that fixed lighting) and could increase the number of bikers riding without lights, who would then continue to do so in poorly lit areas off the Path.
We should start with education and, if the problem persists, enforcement of the laws prohibiting bikers from riding at night without lighting. Changed behavior through education works best through humor. So how about taking a small fraction of the $250K to $300K budgeted for lighting the Path and instead posting occasional series of signs along it using the old “Burma Shave” signs as a model (http://burma-shave.org/
). If lit signs is desired, that can be done with solar lighting and very low wattage on each sign. Here’s some examples (perhaps with the last “Be Safe” sign in “Burma Shave” lettering) to get the ball rolling:
A six-sign series for Path walkers/runners:
He dressed in black…
And couldn’t be seen.
Just saw his back…
In time to scream!
Light Your Own Way.
A six-sign series for bikers riding without lights:
No lights on my ride…
Through the law says I gotta…
Not so cool to collide…
I guess next ride I oughta!
Light Your Own Way.
Lots cheaper than fixed lighting of the whole path and it might have much better results – including the creative jingles that Madtown folks would undoubtedly develop.