Chico’s street lights (or lack thereof)

A+lonely+light+casts+a+glow+on+the+corner+of+Fourth+and+Ivy+St.+in+Chico%2C+CA%2C+on+Tuesday%2C++Feb.+5%2C+2019.+Many+students+complain+about+the+lack+of+lighting+on+the+lower+campus+streets+after+the+sun+goes+down.+Photo+credit%3A+Olyvia+Simpson
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Chico’s street lights (or lack thereof)

A lonely light casts a glow on the corner of Fourth and Ivy St. in Chico, CA, on Tuesday,  Feb. 5, 2019. Many students complain about the lack of lighting on the lower campus streets after the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

A lonely light casts a glow on the corner of Fourth and Ivy St. in Chico, CA, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Many students complain about the lack of lighting on the lower campus streets after the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

A lonely light casts a glow on the corner of Fourth and Ivy St. in Chico, CA, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Many students complain about the lack of lighting on the lower campus streets after the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

A lonely light casts a glow on the corner of Fourth and Ivy St. in Chico, CA, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Many students complain about the lack of lighting on the lower campus streets after the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Reed Mccoy and Olyvia Simpson

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At Chico State, we enjoy a privilege that much of Chico doesn’t seem to have, and it isn’t the academics.

The last time you went beyond campus at night, have you noticed how dark it seems to be? If you live off-campus, do you ever have to walk at night before or after classes only to notice it seems darker than walking in the darkest woods you could imagine? Have you ever almost been hit by a car while simply trying to cross the street because it is so dark? In a city of over 80,000 people, why is this such a regular occurrence?

Over my past five years at this school, I have spoken with many of my fellow students about the lack of lighting. The majority of them traveled in large groups at night, because traveling alone made them feel unsafe; largely because of how dark it was outside.

StreetlightOPT

A lonely light casts a glow on the corner of Fourth and Ivy St. in Chico, CA, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Many students complain about the lack of lighting on the lower campus streets after the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

When I went out for parties as a freshman, I remember tripping over quite a few curbs or sidewalks because I couldn’t see where I was going. I am aware that it’s part of our school safety guidelines to travel in groups, but could the lack of lighting be a contributing factor in the school’s decision to promote this guideline?

Every time I walk home at night I have to put up with this nonsense, as any part of Chico excluding the campus, downtown and a few apartment complexes are practically pitch black. The only lights that seem to be on and working well are the orange street lights, a common sight in most cities.

However, the majority of street lights in Chico are labeled by Chico’s Department of Planning as “energy efficient and dark sky compliant LED street lights.” Yes, these lights are energy efficient, but do they provide any real light at all? The answer is no, because they work exactly like fluorescent lights in that they are so energy efficient they don’t provide a sufficiently well-lit environment.

Let’s figure out what “dark sky compliant” actually is.

“Light– the inappropriate use of artificial light at night – is an environmental pollutant that harms our planet and robs us of the opportunity to experience the wonder of a natural night sky,” according to the leading campaigners against light pollution, the International Dark-Sky Association. Apparently, IDA has been pushing to end light pollution so we can experience the night sky naturally.

I agree that light pollution is a problem. As someone who comes from the Bay Area-where the only lights you can see in the sky come from airplanes or satellites. But is it worth it in a place like Chico, where we have to live with almost being hit by cars when trying to cross the street at night?

Additionally, the “Butte County General Plan 2030” addresses light pollution as a serious problem in our county, and that it would seek more sustainable practices. This probably includes getting rid of more orange lights and replacing them with LEDs.

I guess nobody told them that in order for these street lights to work, you have to place them closer together. I swear, every time I have been down Ivy Street (past the general goods store), I can’t help but think what kind of genius decided they would put one street light on an entire city-sized block -at the end of it, no less.

I understand the city’s plan to become more energy efficient, but it should not come at the cost of well-lit streets! It’s dangerous for students and other community members who need the light at night.

Reed Mccoy can be reached at [email protected] or @ReedMcCoy6 on Twitter.

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