Lighting Tips for Safer Parks and Recreation Areas

by | Sep 21, 2023 | 0 comments |

Adequate lighting in parks and recreation areas is a common request. Lighting improves visibility, making it easier to navigate the area, and it also highlights entrances, exits, gathering areas, walkways, and facilities. Having plenty of lighting will also result in safer parks. When you are planning recreation area lighting, there are three main aspects to consider.

Create Safer Parks

While safety ratings are vital, patrons often pay more attention to how they perceive a park’s safety. Dimly illuminated paths and facilities can drive patrons away, even if the recreation area has outstanding safety ratings. Installing adequate park lighting can increase the perception of safety and encourage visitors.

An example of using recreation area lighting to create safer parks is the Summer Nights program in Los Angeles, California. To discourage gang activity and violence in the city’s parks, the program keeps park lights on until midnight. The parks are also sponsoring nighttime activities to increase visitation to the recreation areas.

The Summer Nights program is sponsored by the city and private donors. By effectively reducing crime in the neighborhoods around the parks, the program is becoming a blueprint for other cities.

LED Lighting is one of the easiest ways to enhance safety after dark. I our blog, A Before and After Comparison of an LED Parking Lot Retrofit, we cover the benefits of installing LED lighting as it pertains to safety and provide a before and after video that clearly shows the safety benefits.

Energy Efficiency

Keeping the lights on longer increases electricity costs but parks can take advantage of energy-efficient products. New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is an example. The agency oversees the largest municipal lighting system in the United States with 12,000 luminaires in the city’s public parks.

To combat rising energy costs, the DOT began an LED pilot program in Central Park in 2008. The DOT replaced 100-watt metal halide lights with LED luminaires. The results from the program show LED lights last two to three times as long as metal halide lights while creating better visibility despite having lower light intensity. The LED lights saved the city $94,710 in a single year.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is another example of city parks using LED lighting. In the city’s famed Frenchy’s Field, the 17-acre recreation area uses motion sensors and brightness level controls to adjust the lighting according to ambient conditions.

Other benefits of using LEDs for park lighting include lower power usage and the ability to draw electricity from solar panels, further decreasing usage costs.


Take a Hierarchical Approach to Park Lighting

The best approach to take for a park’s lighting design is to use a hierarchy. Start with high-activity areas and main walkways, gradually working your way down to lesser-used areas.

Some aspects to consider in your lighting design include,

  • Types of lighting and intensity
  • Illuminating the park perimeter and activity areas at the park’s edge
  • Lighting placement
  • Ensuring the lighting is consistent
  • Coordinating with any park signage
  • Installing lighting to encourage park use after dark

Advanced next gen LED technology is also allowing landscape architects to be more creative in their designs making parks prominent landmarks and drawing in tourists. Think of recreation areas like Central Park. Other examples include Phoenix’s Civic Space Park which has a stunning, LED-clad, 145-foot, interactive sculpture of columns in the center. Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis, part of a revitalized Mill District, draws many visitors and park guests with blue-lit benches that echo the facade of the adjacent Guthrie Theater.

Talk to Action Services Group About Your Park Lighting Needs

We are experts when it comes to outdoor lighting, including parks and recreation areas. Let us help you create an effective and efficient lighting design that makes your park safer while also drawing in visitors. Contact us today to learn more. Call 610-558-9773 or email [email protected] or schedule a call to discuss your Turn-Key LED Retrofit options.


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