Improving public health by using road lighting to encourage cycling at night

This project will provide preliminary data that can support an increase in the number of people cycling, which is a goal for the UK and other governments due to the range of environmental and health benefits of this mode of travel.

Recent research by the PI and colleagues has shown that, for a given time of day, the number of people cycling is higher in daylight than dark. This research also suggested more people cycled at night on paths that were lit rather than unlit. The sample of locations was relatively small however and did not permit analysis of the effect of different lighting characteristics, such as illuminance and spatial distribution. Further evidence is needed to confirm the link between lighting and cycling activity after-dark, and identify the lighting characteristics that have greatest benefit.

The potential for lighting to influence cycling rates suggests it may have implications for public health through encouraging physical activity. Evidence is required to quantify this potential and evaluate lighting as a possible intervention to improve public health. We will provide preliminary data about the feasibility of mapping cycling frequencies at street level and associating these with road lighting data. This data will be used to extend an existing health economics model about physical activity, to quantify any health benefits of lighting and identify future data requirements.

Our findings will support the development of a large funding application for a more extensive project.

Lead Academic at Lead University

Jim Uttley –  School of Architecture, University of Sheffield 

Lead Academics at other Institutions

  • Robin Lovelace – Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • Matthew Taylor –  York Health Economics Consortium, University of York

 

Other staff members associated with this project

  • Steve Fotios, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield
  • Malcolm Morgan, Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • Jess McMaster, York Health Economics Consortium, University of York