Those street lights that glow orange in Britain, am I in creepy B movie?

Posted on March 31, 2009 by peacefulyorkshire

yahooavatar15Night has fallen and there is an orange glow that radiates through the dark  in cities all across the UK. And its not from the over-use of fake tan products. Oh, no.. this glow is from the street lights.

Mr . Chill, my English boyfriend, has the theory that the obnoxious orange glow is only orange and not white for the birds. “The birds”, I asked?”Yes, he has this theory that the birds need the glow of the street lights to be orange  so they don’t think its day time. I don’t believe that theory though because American birds don’t stay up all night because of  street lights (which are not orange they are white).

Birds and their safety aside or whatever theory anyone tells me, I can’t help it. I just really don’t like the orange street lights in Britain. The eerie orange makes everything look like I am in a 1970′s B movie as I am walking home at night. The orange glow is creepy, and it adds to the spooky atmosphere around my dark Victorian House which is near a spooky bridge. Which is over a dark alley. Which ASBO kids like to drink in. You get the idea. There hasn’t been one time where I have thought that the orange street lights are nice. Nope not one. Ever. But, I thought, surely I am not the only whiny lady that needs to write a post about it. Well, actually, no I am not. There is a whole blog (!!!) about street lights– complete with pictures and all kinds of orange glow information to satisfy your desires… See that blog here.

But, according to the BBC, there is a whole new initiative in Leeds (started in 2006) aimed at replacing 80% of all those orange lights as they are not environmentally friendly. They will be changed to white. Ahh… white. Thank god we are living in a more green councious world, that might be the catalyst that is going to change the orange. I cant wait! Now if I could just tackle the other orange glow in England—the glow from Fake n’ Bake users …

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  1. Pingback: When your American-self imagines breeding some British children | She's Not From Yorkshire

  2. Savannah July 23, 2009 at 4:57 am

    “Savannah – do you know why they would’ve chosen orange tho?”

    I’m sorry to have been so long in replying to this.

    The orange light is produced by sodium vapor elements.

    It has the following properties:

    1. It costs less; there is a smaller charge to the local tax payer
    2. It contributes less to carbon emission and greenhouse effect
    3. It produces less light pollution
    4. It is less glaring to nighttime vehicle drivers; causes less night blindness.

    Whether you see these as advantages depends on where you stand on the continuum between personal selfshness, on the one hand, and comprehensive public benefit, on the other.

  3. yankeebean April 26, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Savannah – do you know why they would’ve chosen orange tho? Can you shed any light? Sorry… BAD pun :)

  4. Savannah April 9, 2009 at 1:42 am

    A rigorous black-out was imposed in the UK during WWII. No street lights of any color would have been on, so none would have been visible by enemy airplanes. What you heard is therefore not correct.

  5. yankeebean April 5, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I’d heard that it was linked back to WWII and that it was harder for bomb-carrying aircraft to see populated areas from the air if they were lit with orange lights.

    Who knows? I agree that they’re creepy, though…

  6. Christiana April 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Rachel, I was going to say the exact same thing! I miss Tucson’s orange glow though, and the saguaros… :)

  7. peacefulyorkshire April 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Just call me your own little researcher as I have done some BBC investigating on the pink lights and spots.

  8. Iota April 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I read a news article recently about a town in Germany that is so environmentally friendly, that they don’t use street lights except on the main roads. If you want to go out on foot after dark, you text a number with special street codes, and then the lights on those streets automatically come on.

    Sounds great, but what if you want to take a detour at the last minute? And to be honest, what a nuisance, if you just want to walk to a friend’s house.

    I agree about the horrible orange glow. Why on earth…?

  9. rod April 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Whatever colo(u)r makes the drunk Brits none-violent… that’s the one they should switch it to.

    I always thought the color had to do with less electricity being used in order to save on the electric bill. In Texas, the lights went orange all of a sudden about 15 years ago.

  10. pacificyorkshirebird April 2, 2009 at 11:26 am

    The street lights near us only work about half the time. Thank goodness it is lighter in the evenings now!

    I agree something about the orange has a very 70′s feel. I’ll be heading south for a few days so I’ll report back on the state of street lights down there!

  11. Basil Brown April 1, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Hi there,

    Thanks for linking my Streetlights blog. Hardly a blog in the proper sense, as updates are so few and far between. Will reciprocate the link.

    Did visit Mayfair in London recently though and was delighted to see street after street lit in white. Naturally I didn’t have the super streetlight camera with me, so no new post on that.

    On the subject of light-pollution:

    There is a case for using low-pressure sodium [deep orange colour] near observatories, as the monochromatic orange – a very narrow band of light – is easy for astronomers to filter out. I’ve also heard that migrating sea-turtles can be confused by wide-spectrum lighting.

    But, for the majority of locations, orange lighting is inappropriate. Because our night-time vision favours blues and greens, orange sodium lighting needs to be very much brighter than white lighting in order to achieve the same levels of useful illumination. Because of this overlighting, we are cursed with the ugly urbanising skyglow effect.

    My post Roads to Hell gives a fairly concise account of the arguments.

    Be interested to know whereabouts in the US you come from.

    Best wishes,


  12. peacefulyorkshire April 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Wow pink street lights that highlight zits. I can’t believe that is how tax money is being spent…!!
    And that decision is a city council assuming that asbos have a high number of pimples anyway to be worried enough about these pink lights. Well, more so than a “more affluent” citizen. What a weird decision!

    It reminds me of places in the USA blaring classical music so that youth wouldn’t congregate there either. Imagine that pink lights and classical music in combination…wow.

  13. Meg April 1, 2009 at 3:12 am

    I actually heard (on Radio 1, I think) that some places are switching to pink-ish coloured lights that supposedly draw attention to one’s spots. This is specifically to deter ASBOs from wanting to congregate in those areas.


    And I also dislike the orange lights. Namely the one that beans right into my bedroom window at 3am when I wake from a sound sleep.

  14. Rachel March 31, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Hmmm. I wonder if it has to do with light pollution. They have really orange street lights in Tuscon, Arizona, in order to cut light pollution so the observatory there can operate better. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but know that’s why the Exit signs in a theater are usually red — because it doesn’t cut into the darkness of the theater. Maybe orange is a compromise between needing light and causing light pollution? Great point to ponder, Peacefulyorkshire.

  15. yankeebean July 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    All those reasons sound good to me…

    but it doesn’t stop the fact that it can be creepy if you’re walking alone at night.

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