Are Your Alley Lights Glaring?

Last November, GM moved into a new home that has an alley behind it. He quickly realized that the alley lights (one of which is shown above) get awfully bright and glaring at night.

As you can see from the photo, the light had a glass “bulb” that hung below the hood. It lit up fully, so it gave the effect of a hanging bare light bulb in an otherwise unlit room.

GM was resigned to just live with the nightly glare, but then he heard at the most recent ANC that if you are unhappy with your streetlights, DDOT will attempt to mitigate the glare. So GM wrote Ron Lewis, his commissioner, and about a week later brand new lights were installed:

The new lights actually make the alley itself brighter, but without the exposed glass “bulb” the light is more directed downward rather than sideways. It still creates a less than romantic atmosphere in the garden, but the glare into the house itself is significantly reduced.

So let it be known: if your alley lights are glaring into your bedroom at night, give your commissioner a call!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Are Your Alley Lights Glaring?

  1. Nemo

    It makes little difference if DDOT replaces the light fixture so long as the light source is a sodium vapor lamp — these are the orange/yellow street lights that have ruined the night in Washington for decades. DDOT will say they produce more light, and thus deter crime, but the esthetic drawbacks far outweigh this rationale. The hot, piercing, orange light imparts a lurid glare to the cityscape, and destroys the soft, cool shadows of the night. Moreover, there are alternatives. Take a look at the white street lights used around the Capitol and along certain parts of Independence and Constitution Avenues — they provide plenty of illumination, but none of the eye-scorching orange glow. LIght pollution, and loss of the night, are just now being recognized for their negative psychological impact on human beings, and a more damaging physiological effect on the environment and other species, as well. The DarkSky initiative (no, it’s not the old TV series!) is working to build public awareness on this issue and promote the use of new technologies to restore the night, even in urban environments — check it out at Darksky.org. And try to remember what it was like when you turned off the lights and your bedroom was really, truly, dark.

  2. RNM

    I always liked the approach of people with streets lights on the sidewalk in front of their home painting the side of the dome toward them black. A little civil disobedience but I imagine it worked. Alternatively, there is this new and exciting technology for reducing the impact of outside light sources called curtains and blinds…and they even work during the day for those new parent cat naps. ;)

  3. Topher

    Actually I was told DDOT would paint the lights for you if you ask.

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