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General Road and Highway Discussion
There is some underground utility work going on along Fairway Rd in front of Best Buy, it's a very sizable stretch.
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The conversation about visibility on the Cycling thread reminds me of an open question that comes up this time of year:

Why are there streetlights on highways?

There are obvious reasons for streetlights on city streets (pedestrians, cyclists, wayfinding)... but those reasons are all absent on highways (so long as the signs are lit or reflective). The recent widening of the parkway east of Fischer-Hallman was accompanied by the hoisting up of arrays of over-tall, over-powered light arrays that seemed to have absolutely no aesthetic consideration paid to them.

Ultimately I expect the answer is "Because the MTO says so in the HTA," but I'd like to know if there's a non-"because I said so" justification.
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(10-24-2016, 10:36 AM)chutten Wrote: The conversation about visibility on the Cycling thread reminds me of an open question that comes up this time of year:

Why are there streetlights on highways?

There are obvious reasons for streetlights on city streets (pedestrians, cyclists, wayfinding)... but those reasons are all absent on highways (so long as the signs are lit or reflective). The recent widening of the parkway east of Fischer-Hallman was accompanied by the hoisting up of arrays of over-tall, over-powered light arrays that seemed to have absolutely no aesthetic consideration paid to them.

Ultimately I expect the answer is "Because the MTO says so in the HTA," but I'd like to know if there's a non-"because I said so" justification.

Because streetlights provide far better visibility than car headlights, it isn't just about signs and lines and other vehicles, its about situational awareness.

I suspect there are studies which show substantially reduced collision rates on busy highways with lighting vs. without, but I'm not actually aware of any so feel free to prove me wrong, but as a driver this is certainly my experience.  On a lit highway, I feel that I am more aware of my surroundings than on an unlit highway.
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I absolutely agree. There have been many circumstances driving on the 401 in the Hwy 8 - Hespeler stretch that I have felt tense and uneasy driving at night, specifically because visibility is occasionally horrible there with no lighting whatsoever. Merging feels dangerous. I can't say the same on some other areas on the 401 where there are also no lights, but I'm not really sure why that is - maybe light pollution from the city is making it harder to see the unlit highway?

In rain as well. If it's pouring out, stretches of highways that are unlit have 0 visibility, and I can never see the lane markers, and have to drastically reduce my speed / get in the right lane. Not so with lit highways.
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(10-24-2016, 11:07 AM)GtwoK Wrote: I absolutely agree. There have been many circumstances driving on the 401 in the Hwy 8 - Hespeler stretch that I have felt tense and uneasy driving at night, specifically because visibility is occasionally horrible there with no lighting whatsoever. Merging feels dangerous. I can't say the same on some other areas on the 401 where there are also no lights, but I'm not really sure why that is - maybe light pollution from the city is making it harder to see the unlit highway?

In rain as well. If it's pouring out, stretches of highways  that are unlit have 0 visibility, and I can never see the lane markers, and have to drastically reduce my speed / get in the right lane. Not so with lit highways.

Have you been checked for night vision issues?
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(10-24-2016, 10:36 AM)chutten Wrote: Why are there streetlights on highways?

I adore streetlights on highways. The safety factor must go up exponentially with them. I hate leaving Toronto on 401 when you pass under that one bridge in Mississauga... and it goes from nice-and-bright to pitch black instantly! It creates a very hostile transition.

The same happens when you pass by about King St. leaving Kitchener heading up the big hill on 8 out of town toward Toronto. There, the streetlights end and there's nothing out to the big flyover onto 401. Thankfully, they begin again, there.
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(10-24-2016, 11:07 AM)GtwoK Wrote: In rain as well. If it's pouring out, stretches of highways  that are unlit have 0 visibility, and I can never see the lane markers, and have to drastically reduce my speed / get in the right lane. Not so with lit highways.

The lane markings on the "new 8" between 401 and the 7/85 split are horrific. In even the slightest amount of rain, they disappear completely. Florida, I think, was the first spot I noticed where they actually paint their lane markings in alternating black and white. This is brilliant, because regardless of the weather or lighting conditions, at least one of those two markings is visible!

(10-24-2016, 11:27 AM)panamaniac Wrote: Have you been checked for night vision issues?

Rude
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(10-24-2016, 12:23 PM)Canard Wrote:
(10-24-2016, 11:27 AM)panamaniac Wrote: Have you been checked for night vision issues?

Rude


Or concerned. Tone markings are missing.


Personally I don't feel I need or benefit from the lit highways. Maybe it's my formative driving years being spent in Northern Ontario, but I don't have any problems with driving alongside darkness, my old friend. (Just need to watch your high-beam etiquette.) I'm pleased to hear it helps others... and I, too, wonder if there is substantial evidence for reduced rates of (fatal or otherwise) collisions because it can't be cheap to light it all.
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It's like bike lanes. Sure you can ride on the road, but bike lanes make it suhhh-weet! When highways (especially busy ones) are illuminated it makes everything far less stressful.
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Citation needed on lighting highways making them safer, though. People are great at risk-compensation, so if - as everyone here is saying - people feel safer when the road is better lit, then that probably means people are driving faster and more dangerously than they would otherwise. On balance, does it help?
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Citation needed on people probably driving faster if it's brighter. Smile
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Seems kind of obvious that better lighting would help reduce accidents - especially in areas of high traffic / frequent merges.

But here's a study - http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/97095/ch02/body_ch02_04.html I found pretty quickly. Seems to confirm lighting reduces accidents.
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Thanks Sammy!

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who's spent more than 2 seconds behind a wheel that this:

[Image: 4346366-highway-at-night.jpg]

...is far more pleasant than this:

[Image: 1184973411.jpg]
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By the way, I didn't mean 'seems kind of obvious' in an insulting way to anyone. There are lots of 'obvious' things that are wrong.

I just skimmed the study but there was a section that talked about how in some cases frequently changing from light to dark can diminish the benefits of lighting. I found that kind of interesting.
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(10-24-2016, 09:45 PM)Canard Wrote: I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who's spent more than 2 seconds behind a wheel that this:
...is far more pleasant than this:

Oh, but I agree that it's more pleasant!

Here's an abstract of a well-cited study on the subject of risk compensation and road lighting (emphasis mine):

Quote:The hypothesis of this article is that drivers will not adjust their behavior, i.e. drivers are not expected to increase their speed, reduce their concentration or travel more when road lighting is installed. The hypothesis was based on previous research showing that road lighting reduces road accidents and that average driving speeds do not increase when road lighting is installed. Our results show that drivers do compensate for road lighting in terms of increased speed and reduced concentration. Consequently, the hypothesis is rejected. This means that road lighting could have a somewhat larger accident-reducing effect, if compensation could be avoided. The fact that previous research has found no change in average speed when road lighting is introduced, seems to be explained by increased driving speeds by some drivers being counterbalanced by a larger proportion of more slowly driving groups of drivers (elderly people and women), i.e. different subgroups of road users compensate in different ways.
To be clear, a measure like road lighting can have an overall benefit even if drivers compensate for some of the reduced risk.
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