Is street lighting necessary?
We were in Soho, Hong Kong, exploring restaurants. It was amazing to see the street without lighting and traffic. 70% of the retail store were closed and the restaurants illuminated the street with their signage and interior lighting. Seating were setup along the slope and pedestrian were pretty close to us. They could almost taste what we were eating. With quiet old apartment on the upper levels, this part of Hong Kong feels very friendly and quiet.
The amazing part for me is the absence of street lighting. It controls our mood and noise level. There are area that are very bright like the Chinese lantern store, but the rest of the street are very dark in comparison. The contrast makes the store itself more attractive. The product stands out and the store appear like some magic show. This lights contrast also makes people want to talk discreetly as if loud talking would disturb the darkness. Food and people also appear more interesting using multiple light source at various height and colors. Instead of having a consistent halogen warm light on our food and faces, the signage and interior lights created more depth and definition on our faces and food. With that said, I think it is time for us to rethink the strategy of street lighting? Some people complains street without lighting is unsafe, but some researchers has found that there is “no evidence to support the hypothesis that improved street lighting reduces reported crime”. I would argue that it is possible to create a vibrant and safe street without lighting, as long as people can program the street probably. When the street is balanced with the right amount of activities, it is possible to create a night life that are quiet and enjoyable.