How to Improve Bike Trails and Paths with Solar Lighting
Posted by Stephen Shickadance in Inspiring Projects.
In the mid-1980s, an interesting movement happened across the nation where activists, historians, park groups, and similar people banded together to found an organization dedicated towards repurposing old rail corridors into public paths for everyone's enjoyment: the Rails to Trails Conservancy was born out of this desire to connect people, develop public areas, and increase health. Today, the Conservancy is highly active all over the US and headquartered in Washington. It's movements like these that Greenshine loves to promote because of their efforts in developing bike and walking paths, but it's important to know that a trail itself isn't enough--these trails wouldn't be complete without adequate lighting fixtures to stay on when the sun drips below the horizon. Here are some ways that solar lighting for paths is excellent to increase safety for those commuting on foot or bicycle.
In Need of Solar Light from Above
Theft-Resistant Light Design
You might think that any kind of light will do just fine for a bike or walking path, but that couldn't be further from the truth; the LA River Bike Path used to use grid-connected HID light fixtures for their path lighting until park officials noticed that vandals were stealing the copper in them and rendering the lights useless. The City of LA quickly switched to solar and saw a significant decline in vandalism since solar LED lights are very theft-resistant. There's no doubt that vandalism happens on desolate pathways, especially when there's something as valuable as copper to be stripped away from a light (copper theft is an actual epidemic in the US). That's specifically why solar lighting for bike paths and walkways is ideal--the wiring is hidden inside of the pole, and the batteries that store the solar energy can be placed high atop the pole out of reach of vandals and thieves. Plus, Greenshine path lights are built with hot-dipped, galvanized, powder-coated steel poles. If anyone wants to try and vandalize the poles, well...let's just say the pole will win. They're the best in store for solar bike trail lighting.
Darkness = Danger
Without adequate lighting, a path's topography isn't easily discernible, nor are potential obstacles in the way. For bikers, this can spell accidents, collisions, and injury quickly. According to Lake County's (Florida) former bicycle coordinator, Bruce Mackey, more than 60 percent of fatal bike accidents occur after 6 PM when there isn't proper lighting in the area of concern. It's feasible to close park and trail hours before 6 PM, but that doesn't mean every guest or commuter will be off of the trail around that time. Using solar bike trail lighting with extended park hours is the best practice.
Bike Paths and Trails--Far too Distant for Power
We're sure a large percentage of trails and paths in the US don't have adequate lighting, and for good reason: it just isn't practical to connect a path light to the power grid, especially if the trail is several miles long and distant from any kind of power source. The average cost to dig 100 feet of trench to wire lights together is nearly a thousand dollars (on the cheap end). One mile is 5,280 feet. If you're planning on lighting even a single mile of pathway, trenching can potentially cost you 60 thousand dollars. That's just a single mile for the pathway and specifically why we vouch for solar path lights--you can save the project budget 60 thousand per mile by using solar path lights. That doesn't even account for the distance from the first light to the nearest available power source. It just isn't practical nor budget-worthy, especially if the path in question is far away. One of our recent projects detailed how our solar lights illuminate a floating dock area--the project was far from any power grid connectivity (several miles). Plus, wired lights typically all go out if one of the lights has a connectivity problem.
Solar is More Minimal Than You Might Think
Environmentally sensitive areas are definitely a concern when it comes to new lighting project; it may be the case that a particular area needs light only at certain times of night--perhaps specifically just for the time that a public park is open so that wildlife at night isn't disturbed with bright LED lights. One of the greatest features for solar bike trail lighting is that these particular lights can be controlled any way desired. If they need to be "full brightness" between 5 PM and 10 PM and then shut off after park closure, the light controllers can be adjusted to that specification.
No Trenching, 100% Grounds Conservation
We've seen plenty of examples where new lighting projects tore up park grounds and destroyed beautification efforts just to install wires. The last thing as a lighting company we would want to do is bring harm to any environment, which is specifically why we're in the business of solar lighting for paths and parks. Each solar light is self-contained, great for the environment (no usage of fossil fuels), and has little effect on surrounding areas. Parks won't need to have any sensitive areas torn up for wiring purposes, and the LED fixtures contain zero hazardous materials. Some lighting fixtures contain mercury, which needs proper disposal and can potentially damage the environment. Our LED fixtures are built with Cree LEDs which are 80% more efficient than traditional fluorescent or incandescent lighting technologies, so beyond the fact that we use an entirely renewable source of energy to power our lights, the use of power is highly economical.
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Pulling power to a path in the middle of the desert? Not practical. Solar is more practical.[/caption]
As a leader in the solar LED light market, the lights we manufacture are prime for use as solar bike path lights. We've got 30 years of combined experience under one roof, and we love to put our heads together to develop the safest, most economical lighting solution for your path, park, or bike trail. Let us know what we can develop for you with our solar solutions--you'll find Greenshine is quite delightful!
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