• Hey all, on non bike days i work as a lighting design consultant and occasionally i provide lighting input for exterior planning reports. I have a new waterside development project that has a designated bike path that runs along the waterside then passes through an open area (approx 30m distance) before rejoining a more defined route. Part of my role is to state what the level and uniformity of light should be to provide safe passage. In general we use British and European standards as guidance not absolutes and whenever possible we derogate to lower the level of obtrusive light and create a more natural night-time environment. However a space that has both cyclists and pedestrians moving freely together would be considered a conflict zone where the level of light needs to be raised accordingly to ensure safety. Note there is no motor vehicle access.

    From a safety/behaviour point of view would it make more sense to have a defined route clearly illuminated through the square or provide an even level of light over the entire space that allows both pedestrians and cyclists to find there own way through?

    The architects would prefer the former but my understanding of shared spaces is to encourage cars/bikes to slow down and think of pedestrians first. My concern of lighting a clear path is cyclists not slowing down or considering this as there right of way. Given that there would be no physical barriers this worries me. My experience is that it's unrealistic to think pedestrians will pay that much attention to "defined" routes unless there's cars involved.

    It's easy for me to advise on light levels for either options but i'd like to know what the current thinking is behind how we should be encouraging cyclists to use these spaces.

    Any thoughts from people with experience of designing these spaces would be much appreciated.

  • I reckon the point about designing conflict in is good. Could you loosely define a track, by using two different roughnesses of surface, but that fade into each other? If they visually contrast a little, you’re saying to cycle users “we get that you’ll want to take the shortest route through, but we’ve meandered you a little on purpose and there’s no defined boundary, so your route will need to be negotiated with users on foot”.

    I’ve never seen this done, but I do sometimes wonder if there’s something in between mixed use throughout and defined white lines tracking.

  • PS I am not a planner! Just a user of cycles & feet in a lot of spaces like this along the Thames. Some are belligerently anti-cycling user, and some are thought out quite well.

  • Another surface to consider might be something with holes for ground plants to populate. If you change the density of plant bricks and plain, in a graded way, you could suggest a general and tactile route to users.

  • Design in the conflict.

    I would make sure that ‘mixed useage’ signage is clear at the start and end of the defined cycle path.

    I have done a few schemes like that and it seems to work quite well, not that I have ever asked for feedback though. I do use Cycle and walk through that areas though

  • Thanks both. Mixed surfaces would be good way of creating contrast with the right level of light but looking at the latest landscape info there's a continuous paved pattern going through the whole site that may be difficult to influence. They don't want to put anything vertical in the area to keep it clear for events. Marker lights have been mentioned as a way of highlighting the most sensible route but they do little to warn pedestrians of cyclists and vice versa. Signage (which hasn't been mentioned so far) could work well to provide orientation points either side of the square if they are well lit at night.

  • Changes in surface materials need to be carefully considered, in my view. In certain spaces they work well as they subtly create the order thats required. However sometimes they look a mess and seem to promote needless clutter for some reason, like bollards etc.

    One thing that I do think works well in most cases is things like drop kerbs, or a textured kerb stone at the beginning and end of the designated routes.

  • Ah yeah of course if surfaces are already decided then my suggestions aren’t useful.

    ^Yeah like gateways that say ‘new zone here’, a change of level or textured strip can do this.

    Lights can be hazardous if they’re strips, the tops can be slippy for tyres.

  • Unless the lights warn pedestrians to look around for bikes they aren't going to help anyone.

    If I'm cycling, I'm already looking for pedestrians as a matter of course. If I don't pay attention I am certain to fall off.

    If I'm a pedestrian in a pedestrian area I tend to be a bit oblivious. Because I rarely fall off my own feet* no matter how little attention I'm paying.

    Not sure how you would fix that. Bike shaped lights in the surface maybe? But orientated perpendicularly to the direction of cycle travel, with little arrows showing where to look.

    *Except on special occasions.

  • I would look at the open spaces in QEOP for inspiration. A loosely defined but well lit route is my preference. This necessitates an adequate level of lighting in 'non-route' areas for cyclists to tell where pedestrians are. An image of what I mean is below;

  • Thanks i'll look at that.

    I think a loosely defined route could work well in conjunction with clear start/finish boundaries using different levels of light. I'm generally not a fan of lights in the ground for various reasons so i'll focus on increasing vertical illuminance - i.e making sure people in the space are appropriately lit so cyclists and peds can see each other clearly.

  • I'm generally not a fan of lights in the ground for various reasons so i'll focus on increasing vertical illuminance

    Nor me. But wouldn't washing the ground make it easier for spotting people - they would be the dark spots - as in the centre of my image above? (I know you're the expert, and I'm probably wrong.)

  • Washing the ground makes it easier to see the ground, but can also puts things above floor level into dark contrast so it only really works in a non conflict situation.

    Light on the floor is the bane of my existence as it rarely lights people within the space but guidance tells you we need it in case you have a habit of falling of the floor. Diffuse uplights (linear in ground strips etc) can work well as they light moving vertical surfaces (people) but unless there's loads of them they can create contrast (not good in this context) and piss light into the sky which is bad all round.

    Awful RGB aside the combination of high (the columns) vertical (structures ) and low level lighting (water feature) in your pic is what makes it balanced. Try and imagine it with only one of those elements.

  • What use is made of the cycle track? If it's a heavily used track then it helps significantly to enhance the difference in my opinion. Designing in conflict works where traffic levels are low and where one mode isn't going to dominate.

    And of course the Dutch have approached this problem multiple times for 20+ years with a variety of solutions...

  • Thanks for the detailed reply. I work in architecture but still view good lighting design as a bit of a dark art!

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Advice/thoughts, lighting for shared space pedestrian/cycle area - defined route or free for all?

Posted by Avatar for jono84 @jono84