elwynn/Shutterstock.com

Scientists say they make us feel safer.

What makes you feel safe walking at night—a companion, a phone, a battle-ax?

It could be something as simple as white street lighting. That kind of public illumination tends to assuage our fears and might even carry neurological benefits, say researchers at the University of Granada.

Antonio Manuel Peña García and collaborators surveyed 275 pedestrians out late in Granada, Spain, to see if lighting had any effect on their perception of crime and overall well-being. They found that intensely lit thoroughfares—those brightened by white LEDs, for instance, rather than yellow sodium lights—made people feel “safer and better,” according to a study in Safety Science.

Do we have something in particular against nonwhite lights? It could be more of a case of better illumination revealing the faces of strangers and putting us at ease, say the researchers. And though they caution it should be studied more by physiologists, the white light could be triggering something groovy in our brains. Here’s more from the university:

In addition, this work suggests that lights with high content of blue wavelengths (such as some of the white lights in public lighting) a greater inhibition of melatonin, the so called “sleep hormone,” something already observed in laboratory studies by teams of researchers all over the world. For the first time, this has been proven for public lighting in real transit conditions, based in the subjective answers given by the pedestrians.

Whether bold, white lighting really does make us safe is up to contention, García says, with one school of thought being it doesn’t because “even possible criminals seem to need a minimum level of illuminance in order to properly select their victims.”

H/t Treehugger. Top image: elwynn/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. a photo of bikes on a bridge in Amsterdam
    Transportation

    Street by Street, Amsterdam Is Cutting Cars Out of the Picture

    Armed with a street-design tool called the knip, the Dutch capital is slashing car access in the city center, and expanding public transit hours.

  4. Transportation

    A Micromobility Experiment in Pittsburgh Aims to Get People Out of Their Cars

    The Pittsburgh Micromobility Collective will create all-in-one mobility hubs near transit stops, to compete with Uber and Lyft and help commuters go car-free.

  5. a photo of a NYC bus
    Transportation

    Why the Bus Got So Bad, and How to Save It

    TransitCenter’s Steven Higashide has created a how-to guide to help city leaders and public transportation advocates save struggling bus systems.

×