BY BETTE DEWING
“Making a list and checking it twice,” but what jumps to the top of this column’s list is when I read about the lamentably already-in-progress, conversion of city street lights that turn night into day and even invade our homes. To quote Charlie Brown, “AAUGH!”
Now I’m all for saving the planet and saving the city some money, but not when it does harm, very great harm. I mean such as exchanging the current sodium bulb lit street lamps to the LED-lit kind, which destroy the city’s lovely night-time ambiance, the cycle of relative darkness and peace which, I might add, plant life also needs. And much more — and it’s a world-wide boondoggle of the very first kind. Policy makers didn’t do their homework, haven’t looked at the big picture. All they know is LED bulbs cost less to operate and take less energy,
They don’t care or maybe can’t see, how totally wretchedly wrong these blinding lights are - visually, emotionally and physically. And like their energy-efficient fluorescent cousin, they are not biodegradable. So internet-users, please do the LED street light search and share with, above all, legislators and media. Tell them how the LED-afflicted citizenry world- wide always fiercely protests them, including those within the five boroughs. The mayor promised to dim them down some, but some say he hasn’t. Anyway, that’s not the right answer!
And the subject came up again in this column because this appalling makeover is mentioned in this paper’s Nov. 24 cover story. It says, “safety measures are already underway like switching 250,000 street lights to brighter and longer-lasting LED lights.” Sam Quinn, head of pedestrian and bicycle programs said “We are doing everything we can to improve the experience for pedestrians and cyclists in our city.”
Now a switch to traffic safety, but isn’t “experience” an odd word to use for the safe travel some of us have worked for decades to achieve? Hey, I even have framed awards credentials from U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and State Senator Liz Krueger and others.
And speaking of night-lighting we need, really, really bright ones should light up all Citi Bikes. Yes, state law already requires head- and taillights, but judging by the nighttime bicycle scene, you’d never know it. Do many City Council members know that or for cyclists’ safety and others sharing these finite streets, bikes should make a nice little sound. (Scooters too!) Regrettably, this safety-first idea didn’t go over so well with some cyclists.
Ah, but former Parks commissioner henry stern approved because, “Bicycles stress us more often than cars do, because they are small, silent and come at you from any direction.” Obviously, much more needs to be said about that, and that they yield before making a turn into a pedestrian crosswalk. And no speeding.
But, what needs to be inordinately and continually stressed, is that “failure to yield” kills and injures more city pedestrians than any other “crime of traffic.” Of course, casualties are mostly wrought by motor vehicles’ failure to yield — something my Pedestrians First group and column has railed against for decades. And it’s every corner where they can turn into you.
Community Board 8 and 19th Precinct Community Council member Barry Schneider said, ‘“Failure to yield” should be emphasized in every Vision Zero public announcement. “Right now it says, ‘Turn carefully.’”
To be continued, but back to the LIGHTING, to save it safely and even enhance our people-made places and urban environments, reduce the excess wattage that became de rigueur in the last decades. And more so with the advent of so-called energy-efficients and especially the LED kind. Every place is now over-lit. In the hospital rooms I recently experienced, I had to wear sunglasses.
And maybe you also feel that the holiday lights we love are too profuse, and one can’t see the beautiful Rockefeller Christmas tree overwhelmed by its 60 some thousand LED glares.
Ah, above all, please help save the city’s every-night beauty and peace by keeping the kindly light of the sodium-lit street lamp — the kindly light of the sodium street lamp.
And, of course, shop small all year!