Streetlights in the City: Understanding the Distribution of Houston Streetlights
There are at least 173,724 streetlights in the city of Houston, or about 15 streetlights per mile of roadway in the average Houston neighborhood. But there is wide variation in streetlight density across those neighborhoods. This report offers several important findings. First, black and Hispanic neighborhoods have higher concentrations of streetlights than white neighborhoods. Second, mixed-income neighborhoods tend to have higher concentrations of streetlights than the city’s wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods. In the context of this discussion, we should consider the possibility that some areas of the city are overly lit in addition to being concerned about the places without enough lights. There may be a point at which having more lights actually becomes a negative. We need to get a better understanding of the lived consequences of the level of available lighting before making any further decisions regarding city streetlights.
Streetlights seem like they should be a benign topic. They’re unremarkable, familiar fixtures that are part of the backdrop of everyday urban life. But lately, they’ve been a contentious topic for some Houstonians. This report analyzes the location of Houston’s streetlights to determine which areas have the highest concentration of street lights and which have the lowest. It’s an important question because for many, street lights are a critical amenity. They make residents feel safer and more comfortable. But for some, they can be considered a nuisance or even a tool for surveillance.