Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

Thanks for the offer. I think our local councillor here is already taking them on, and we'll certainly be offering to help. We've probably already got enough resources for this if they're interested in actually reading evidence.

As for the other place where my family and some old friends are, unfortunately I'm told their local council have made it pretty clear that they have no interest in reviewing the situation or changing policy in the near future, so it seems for now that battle has been lost. Until something tragic happens, presumably. :-(

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 286 286

Unfortunately, things are unlikely to change unless there is a drastic event that makes them change back to keeping the lights on. You're going to have to have someone fall and break a hip, get drastically beaten in a robbery, or just get worked over by thugs.

And that is exactly what a lot of us are afraid of.

It is notable that a couple of the local authorities who first tried these changes have since reverted. It's hard to know the real reasons for that decision given all the factors involved, but allegedly the safety implications turned out not to be as favourable as expected.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

The trouble is these decisions at local authority level are always partly motivated by political concerns (often with a NIMBY element) and always have one eye on the money jar.

The actual study this is all based on has quite a few significant limitations, many of which the original authors did acknowledge right on page 1. I set out a some of them in another post in this discussion. Unfortunately, newspaper headlines and biased councillors both have a way of only highlighting the over-simplified conclusion and not all the caveats that go with it.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

Of course you should slow down if you can't see properly. No-one is suggesting otherwise.

On the other hand, forcing people to do so makes formerly cycle-friendly streets cycle-hostile, so now people who might have to come home late are driving instead, undoing years of work to promote cycling as an alternative mode of transport.

Or, we could just have sensible, cycle-friendly levels of street lighting to encourage the sustainable, environmentally tolerable, high capacity modes of transport that we actually need.

Sure, you can get dramatically more powerful cycle lights, but most bike shops don't routinely carry them around here and hardly anyone actually has them. So at a minimum, this adjustment for changing street lighting seems to require everyone to buy much more expensive bike lights. At a time when people not buying bike lights at all is a significant safety problem that comes up every year here, I'm not sure that policy is realistic.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 286 286

We have looked this up before. If your external windows are overlooking public space and someone's reasonable lighting is partially lighting that space as well, then unless it's obviously excessive it is unlikely there is anything enforceable that can be done, any more than you have an enforceable right to demand council-operated street lighting around your home all be turned off because you don't like it. I'm not even sure there should be anything enforceable that can be done in that situation, but that's just my personal opinion. I'm just pointing out that for lighting under council control, there may be extra steps they can take to moderate the impact anyway.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 286 286

Why the fuck would a 80 year old be walking down a dark street alone?

I could counter with the obvious "Why shouldn't they, if they want to?" and point out that a member of the previous generation of that family was still happily and capably walking to visit friends or go shopping at nearly 100, but that doesn't really get us anywhere.

In the specific case I had in mind, I'm talking about the oldest member of a family walking back with the rest of his family to their car, after visiting my family.

That person is perfectly capable of getting themselves to the car without needing help from anyone else, as long as they can see where they are going. In fact, as a matter of independence, I'm quite sure they would want to do it themselves. Most people I know of that generation who are still with us take great pride in maintaining that independence as much as possible and not becoming a burden on others, and I firmly believe we should all help them to do so for as long as they can for basic quality-of-life reasons.

Of course their children would help if necessary, and so would anyone from my family, and so would other neighbours if they saw there was a problem. No-one here is suggesting leaving an octogenarian in difficulties to fend for themselves. I'm just saying they shouldn't be put in those difficulties in the first place if it can reasonably be avoided.

Turning off the lights has a disproportionate effect on older people -- not just octogenarian kind of older, but also drivers or cyclists in say their 50s or 60s who would routinely travel independently and probably wouldn't describe themselves as old, but whose eyesight will nevertheless be far less effective in the dark than it was in their twenties. The cut-off point will be different for everyone, but at some point the effect will be enough to make people who would otherwise have felt confident going somewhere not to go out any more, and I don't think that is a good thing.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

Many people have expressed their discomfort to their local councillors. In our particular case, we've also already received a mass mail from one of our local councillors making it clear how strongly she objects to these changes and asking for more people to publicly support her campaign to reverse the policy.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

You're absolutely right that we should question dogma and look for real evidence before making policy on these sorts of issues. But in this case, other evidence I've seen does support maintaining good street lighting.

Some major UK motoring organisations analysed STATS19 data (the same data used by the study we're talking about here) a few months ago when this issue last became a hot topic. IIRC they found evidence that accident rates that had been falling reassuringly in recent years on various road types had fallen by far less on roads where lighting had been reduced. Again IIRC they found evidence of significant higher fatality rates on unlit roads vs. lit. I think the particular report I'm remembering here was by the AA, though probably some of the other major road safety groups have also produced material on this by now.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 286 286

But it isn't unnecessary light pollution. If the council have removed the street lighting then your neighbour has reasonable grounds for installing suitable lighting of their own for security, safety and access purposes.

Councils can make whatever argument they want to justify removing lighting for which they are responsible, and all they really have to fear is the next election. However, taking some sort of enforcement action against someone else would be much harder. They'd have to provide actual evidence and cite actual rules instead of just making policy to match their current political goals. Moreover, taking formal legal action in a case like this but then losing because someone beat their argument about lighting in court would be very embarrassing for them, so it seems unlikely that most local councils would really stick their neck out in this way.

In reality, you'd probably be better off just getting a sleep mask and/or thicker curtains if the external light is causing that much of a problem in your particular case.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 286 286

Sorry, but I completely disagree.

Just for background, I live in one of the most cycling-friendly cities in the UK, with half a dozen bike shops within easy reach of my home. Everyone in my household cycles, with decades of combined experience. We all have some of the most powerful lights you can buy from those shops on our bikes, often in multiples, and none of the flashing LED stuff for primary lighting. Obviously this is significantly more than a lot of people cycle with (or than the law requires for that matter).

You might have thought you had adequate visibility on your dark country roads, but in reality you certainly had blind spots all over the place. On a mostly empty and level road, with a bit of natural lighting from the moon and stars, you'll get away with that up to a point. But on a poorly maintained city street covered in potholes, debris, painted-on road markings, irregular kerbs and so on, you won't.

Comment Wired into Home Theatre (Score 1) 154 154

I tried Chromecast but hated it. Eventually I realized the best solution was connecting my laptop to my home theatre via HDMI. When I need it I just select the video setting and when finished selected back to TV. No need for special apps or even an internet connection. Even when my TV is off I can play music from my laptop through the home Theatre speakers. With Blackberry Blend I can see my incoming email/BBMs when I am watching movies. Video chats on my big screen TV are amazing and remind me of the view screens in Star Trek. We are living in the future.

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"