Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lighting our streets

Walt in France mentioned recently about a French village saving money by turning off the street lights late at night until early morning.

It reminded me of a conversation with an older person who told me I was talking rubbish when I said I remember Melbourne's street lights going off late at night. Until about the age of eight, when we stayed with my grandparents, I used to sleep with my grandmother in her bed in her bedroom at the front of the house. While childhood memories can be defective, I was sure the street lights used to go off. If you woke, you could get an idea of the time by the street lights being on or off. So this person I was speaking to said I was wrong and it was some time ago.

But fresh in my mind because of Walt's post, I thought to ask another older person who confirmed what I thought, that the street lights used to go off late at night. He started reminiscing about his childhood and how they had a tv that they had to pay off buy putting money in a slot to watch it and pay for it. They soon worked out how to cheat it and when the money collector came, he said, you don't watch very much tv. I've heard of these pay tvs but never knew anyone who had one and nor have I seen one.

What did surprise me was that Phillip Morris also installed a cigarette vending machine in their house. They must have been good customers, although lads being lads, again they worked out how to cheat the machine. I have not heard of such machines in homes.

But perhaps what the French village of Goudet should consider is the installation of LED street lighting. City of Melbourne has made the change and while no doubt it costs a good sum of capital, the change will eventually pay for itself. From my observations when we were last in Sydney, City of Sydney has also changed to LED street lighting.

I am not aware of any other local council in Melbourne making the change, certainly not City of Port Phillip. CoPP controls one side of our St Kilda Road boulevard and City of Melbourne the other, so on one side we have bright white LED lamps and on the other side the warm orange glow of high pressure sodium street lamps, which really don't light nearly as well as LED lighting, but they were a cheap operational choice at the time.

Bad photo but it gives you the idea.


35 comments:

  1. A home cigarette vending machine? They must have been really good customers (or Phillip Morris thought they would be).
    I don't think our street lights ever went out at night. I can remember a neighbour painting the side nearest his house black so it didn't shine into his bedroom (he had originally shot out the bulb, but the council didn't respond kindly).

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    1. EC, I don't know how widespread the installation of these machines was. What an interesting neighbour, lol.

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  2. On Christmas Eve, our friends live in a neighborhood that PAY to have the streetlights turned off for the evening, all the streets and driveways are then lined out by candle lit luminaries.

    Take Care,
    Cheers

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    1. Padre, I remember you writing about that, I guess at Christmas.

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  3. I remember the street lights going out too, I think around 1am or sometime soon after midnight, I was very young so don't recall exact times, but they did go out and in summer didn't come on again in the mornings. In winter when it was still dark at 6am they'd come on until about 8am.

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    1. River, that matches my memory.

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  4. In 2000 when I visited my aunt (now passed away) in Albany WA, the street lights all went off at 11pm. The next time I was there (in about 2009) they stayed on all night. I'd put the alteration down to a combination of changed expectations about whether people will be out at night and an increased concern for the safety of pedestrians, particularly women.

    See eg https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/lighting-innovation/fewer-street-lights-dont-increase-crime-or-crashes/

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    1. Marcellous, the lights being on all night in 2009 driven by the exploding nightlife scene in Albany?

      That article reminds me of a theory, maybe fact, that lighting the exterior of your house brightly, especially with movement activated flood lamps, increases the chances of being burgled. Burglars like the light to see what they are doing.

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    2. Albany does attract international tourists and I would say there has been an increase in its night life. 2009 was when I went back; it must have happened earlier. Lights in the town centre probably stayed on all night even in 2000.

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    3. Not been to Albany, but at I at least know how to say it. Albany has some good history, but I wonder what the attraction is for international visitors.

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  5. Changing to LED street lighting sounds intelligent. And perhaps with time, even better cheaper lighting inventions will become popular.

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    1. Hels, we are only on the cusp of such thing.

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  6. I don't recall if there every turn off street lights or not. But once they came on it was time to be home.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, that was early evening or early morning?

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  7. Our village turns ON the lights at night. Why, I cannot imagine, as there's nothing there. Just the church and Mayor's office. A total waste of money.

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    1. Cro, not as much of a waste of having street lights and never using them.

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  8. The reason stated in the town's signage is to reduce light pollution, but I'm sure saving energy/money is part of the motivation.

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    1. Walt, light pollution can spoil views, but not really important for the environment. I agree with you.

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  9. Duck Reach Power Station began generating hydro electricity in 1895 here in Launceston.
    Late in 1895 Launceston’s electric light scheme was nearing completion and on December 10, 1895, it was trialled. Electric lights for the first time illuminated Launceston’s streets from 8pm to 10pm.
    That's a bit of history.

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    1. Nice work Margaret. I would guess your electric trams started immediately after the switching on. I should know the date, but I can't remember.

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  10. Brings new meaning to Pay-per-view TV! LOL!
    Very little of our town is lit at night. I suppose as we are in the country. When I lived in Boston, I hated that it was always light. I love the dark when I sleep and I love the quiet.
    Oh yes, when I lived in Berlin we rented a flat on the KuDam and that is a street that never sleeps. We only stayed a week as neither one of us slept!

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    1. Maribeth, yes, a very early version of pay tv. It must be very dark where you live. When you lived in Berlin.........

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  11. Solar would be even better, maybe not as effective in winter though 😉

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    1. Grace, yes, the space needed to collect enough power is too large for a street lamp. But, I think that may be the next step as technology advances.

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  12. Good idea to change the street lighting to led lights.
    I had never heard of pay per watch tv, that is funny.

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    1. Sami, imagine a cliffhanger moment in a tv show and your tv goes off. You would also have to make sure you always had change.

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    2. Bad enough getting a cliffhanger to end a TV series and having to wait six months for the next season to find out what happens!

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    3. River, as I remember the tv show Broadchurch.

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  13. Suzan W wrote:

    I wrote one confirming that yes, my alcoholic, heavy smoking grandmother had a cigarette dispensing machine in her home in the mid 60s. I don't know when it arrived or left but I remember it very clearly and its presence has been confirmed. She also had a pay phone.

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  14. Here is a site that might interest you, Andrew...

    https://www.globirdenergy.com.au/14-fascinating-facts-about-the-history-of-electricity-in-australia/

    I can't recall if the street lights went off at a certain time in the nights when I was a child...I have no idea.

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    1. Really interesting Lee, thanks. Melbourne had street lighting ten years before Sydney. I wonder why. I've never understood arc lighting.

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  15. I want lights at night. I feel well lit areas help prevent crime.

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    1. Sandra, that is how most people, myself included, think, but read the linked story in Marcellous' much earlier comment.

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  16. My favourite street lighting was in the towns of West Cork in Ireland a few years ago. Powered by both a solar panel and a tiny wind turbine. No wires and they were pleasing to the eye. I tried to initiate the same for the town I was mayor in but was shot down due to original capital cost which we could well afford with the added benefit of possibly setting the tone for the whole island.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, yes, I don't think solar power alone would cut the mustard in Cork, but it is interesting know it can be work in conjunction with a wind turbine. It is unfortunate that some people have such a negative attitude to innovation like that and yes, someone has to lead.

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