Sydney, 22nd December 2009
For many of us the sight of wooden poles with street lights is still somewhat unique. We forget that in many countries there is no such thing as specially designed aluminum street lighting poles and natural resources are used to provide in the needs. Here street lights are fixed to any existing structure “close” to the road. Most of the time that means the wooden poles used to carry the electricity cables (which is handy for the lighting’s power supply :)… ). Even sports grounds at times are using wooden poles for the sports lights. I have seen some wacky installations in Australia. It was one of the eye openers when I first came to this continent. Besides the city centers where most cabling is now underground, the suburbs and rural towns all still have above ground electricity supply and use the wooden poles for street lighting.
History tells us that obviously trees where handy everywhere and a much easier and cheaper proposition then to get them manufactured and imported from overseas. So as the street lighting is generally fixed to the electricity supply poles, the lighting layout is not really tailored to the actual streets. We do regular lighting audits for city councils and in rural Australia and sometimes find the “street” light more than 10m away from the curb simply because the electricity lines run there. The lighting management is generally done by the local electricity provider and standard streetlights (often Mercury Vapor or Sodium types) provide levels of only 2-3 lux just around the pole.
While standards require a better uniformity and higher lighting levels, it is easy to see that in rural areas the lighting is not first priority. In fact we found that the main need for lighting would not be for traffic safety but for prevention of crime and anti social behavior! Interesting…