Tuesday, August 19, 2014

McBurnay Lane, lighting, and creating a safer Downtown Langley

Due to my work schedule, I walk through Downtown Langley anytime between 6:00am in the morning and 1:30am in the late night to get between my place near the Nicomekl Floodplain and the Langley Centre Bus Exchange. Over the years, I have become very familiar with the types of activity that occur in Downtown Langley and the surrounding area both during the day, and at night.

Last night, I was walking through the new McBurney Lane in the heart of Downtown Langley. Lighting is a major element of the lane, and at night it truly shines. The bright lighting in the lane not only is beautiful, but also makes the area feel safe.

McBurnay Lane at Night. Select image to enlarge.

Unfortunately, many other parts of Downtown Langley are dimly light including Douglas Park, the bus exchange, and many of the City-owned parking lots. When I have observed unsavoury business going on in Downtown Langley during the night, it is usually in these poorly light areas.

Unsavoury business likes to be hidden in the shadows; people do not feel safe in poorly lit areas. The lighting in much of Downtown Langley was not designed to create a brightly and evenly lit area. Since these lighting system in Downtown Langley were installed decades ago, a good deal of research has been done on lighting and the creation of a safe public realm. The City of Saskatoon has a great guide called “Safe Growth and CPTED in Saskatoon” if you want to read more information about how lighting plays a key role in creating safety.

In order to increases the perceived and actual safety in Downtown Langley, the City really needs to exam its current lighting strategy.

For example, I felt totally safe walking through McBurnay Lane, but when I had to walk through the poorly light Douglas Park, I felt unsafe.

Light pollution is a major concern when upgrading lighting, but new lighting technologies are very good at putting light were it is needed, and blocking it where it is not (like through people’s windows.)

While I believe that good light is key to improving the safety of Downtown Langley, Council has been reluctant to improving lighting in areas like the bus loop. This is ironic considering that installing street lights in Downtown Langley was the reason that the City of Langley was created in the first place.

No comments: