"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Let's Hear It, Brooklyn Neighbors: What Do You Think Of Those New Bright LED Street Lights?

New LED lights illuminating Hoyt Street at Union Street
and shining brightly into people's home
 all around Carroll Gardens.
Compare to the old lights
Hoyt Street, looking downtown.  The first two lights are the new lights.
The ones in the distance are the old warmer lights.
Old lights still shine on Nevins Street at Union Street

Last night, I received the following email from Keith Klein of Degraw Street.
Hi Katia,
"Please tell me I'm not the first person to take issue with these horribly bright LED bulb replacements on the street lights in the neighborhood. What used to be a comforting glow with a globe is being changed to an industrial floodlight all along streets in the historical district of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Even worse, is tear drop fixtures are being replaced with high power LED too. The character of this neighborhood is an endangered specie.
Have you noticed the new fixtures? Has anyone else made mention

Oh, indeed.  Over the past few days, I have not only heard complaints about the brightness of the lights from people on my own block here in Carroll Gardens, I also received quite a few other emails from people around the neighborhood.

Stephen Warbrick wrote:
"New street lights in the neighborhood made their debut last night on Sackett Street (between court and clinton). Looks like LED -I'm sure they are cost efficient but they change the night scape of the city. Gone is the yellow hue."

Friend Mary P. reached out to say:
"Came home and my street was lit up like the 4th of July. New LED street lights. Not really into it."

Reader Michelle Ocampo wrote :
"Have you seen them yet ? Bright blue flood lights on Sackett Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets?" She forwarded an article  that mentions that New York City is in the process of replacing all 250,000 streetlights to make the City greener and that the "orange haze of sodium-vapor lamps will be gone from the nighttime city, eclipsed by the washed-out intensity of energy-saving light-emitting diodes."

Reducing our carbon footprint by replacing the old bulbs with more efficient ones is of course a worthwhile goal, but all around the City, people have been complaining about the brightness of the new LED lights.
Personally, I think that the light they emit is simply ghastly.  Certainly, there are LED bulbs that shine a warmer, softer glow. Or their beam can be diffused by adding globes over them.

Let's hear what you think.


Benjamin Haas said...

I live on Henry St. near President, and just last night I discovered the front room of my apartment bathed in a new bright light. I know LED streetlights offer the promise of being more directional so that they contribute less to light pollution, but it certainly seems, at 3rd-floor level at least, as if they're flooding the whole sky.

Anonymous said...

I agreed that the light is ghastly. The harsh and cold light makes the neighborhood feel alienating and ugly. The lights themselves are painful to look directly into. I don't see how these are even safe. It is totally unacceptable.

Chris said...

The new LED lights are clinical and bright that distract from the historic character of neighborhoods they have been installed.

Everyone should voice this concern to Brad Lander - Councilman for the 39th District. We should request historic street lamps that are found in other NYC areas. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/nycdot-streetdesignmanual-interior-04-lighting.pdf

Brad Lander
Address: 456 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone:(718) 499-1090

Anonymous said...

The one that just went up on Degraw and Tompkins illuminates our entire bedroom and we have to put up another curtain to diffuse it.

I applaud the efforts regarding energy efficiency, but as you say above, there are indeed LED's (or you can simply use colored transparent covers) which can cast a warm glow rather than the sterile white hue.

Kelly Rice said...

The street is a ghastly glow...and so is my apartment!! Makes me want to cry.

Anonymous said...

This definitely could be executed so much better than it has been. There could be additional shading, different color LED bulbs or more care so the lights are directed down rather than angled in a way so light is streaming so directly right into buildings. Right now everything is bathed in a sickening blue/white glow. It's changed the entire feel of the street at night.

There's a form here to file complaints for Street Lights, although "too bright" isn't one of the options they offer.

Streetlight Request or Complaint

Donald said...

I noticed the change on Butler Street late last week and really aren't bothered by it. In fact, I'm having an easier time identifying car and clothing colors (this might be a good thing in the event of a crime)and find that the street is illuminated more evenly when I am picking up after my dog.

There is very little downside to the new lights. The old yellow-hued lighting made everything seem sickly to me.

Anonymous said...

I must be in the minority because I like them better than the old yellow lights.

Having lived in my house long enough to remember when the yellow lights were installed, they replaced incandescent lights. The yellow lights were harsh and contrary to another reader, made my bedroom glow with a garish yellow light.

The new lights are closer to the old incandescent lights. The light is more directed, so my bedroom is now darker and light is less intrusive in my apartment

So I may be the minority opinion, but I welcome the change

Anonymous said...

People just love to complain. This is a non-issue; cool light is better than the warm for clarity and color accuracy. Plus, it will save energy. They are probably seem brighter because of the color and the old bulbs get dimmer with age. Get over it.

Dan Stenson said...

They're awful! I thought my block was a crime scene the first night I came home after these were installed. They're just naked bulbs, super bright! How could they have been approved like this? Surely they could install a cover that would diffuse the light. I'm in favor of visibility but we don't need perpetual daylight on our blocks!

Anonymous said...

Lets all complain--the lights are ghastly!

Anonymous said...

The newly installed LED light shines into our 2nd floor bedroom like a flood lit construction site and has interrupted our households sleeping and well-being. I'm flabbergasted how our special community has become a nothing but a fabricated suburb. Of course, now I can clearly see everyone at night who does not pick up there dog poop, but I'd much rather have a good nights rest. Please write to Lander.

Anonymous said...

The city is still figuring out the covers, nothing like starting a project without all the pieces. I submitted a complaint regarding the direction of one on the corner of Bond and Union as it points directly in our window. I've read the city will address directional issues, so we'll see. On the upside they finally replaced a light on Union that had been out for years.

Keith Klein said...

I wanted to thank PMFA for covering this quality-of-life issue. I have an update: I bumped into one of the installation crews today and they were very nice, transparent gentlemen. They candidly told me that while there is a tiny micro-encasement, in their professional opinion, the units should also have globes. However, the city did not give them materials to install globes. They mentioned in heavy winds the other night, a few of the LED bulbs and tiny encasements cracked and particles fell to the ground (which is why they were on site today). So as I see it, the addition of globes not only is a safety solution for inclimate weather but also ameliorates the issue of non-evenly distributed light glaring into people's homes across the neighborhood. It's important everyone reach out to the Councilman. The first is be filing a request with 311. The request # can than be communicated with Lander's office, and on our behalf they will follow up for their constituents.

Mishy Mish said...

These new Led lights are the worst. They drive you crazy and you have no way to block them out from coming in your home even if you have the darkest shades it is never dark it is always daylight in your apartment they are the worst. NO SLEEP FOR BROOKLYN!

Clinton Bush said...

There is definitely a Times Sq. "creep" happening in Manhattan and sadly spilling into Brooklyn. I don't understand why residential neighborhoods would even need such a violent light that intrudes and destroys the beauty of the night.
Who (what developer) is making these decisions for the residents of this city?!

Katia said...

To Keith Klein,
Thank you for this additional information. The lack of globes should certainly be brought to the attention of our Councilman, especially if the bulbs are breaking when the wind is blowing too hard.

Anonymous said...

Not only do I feel like I'm in a crime scene when I'm outside but I am always looking out on a crime scene when I am inside. The harsh blue light is awful.

Peter said...

If you walk down to 9th street on Court you can see the old lights and the new lights on the same block. Quite a difference. I find the new ones impossible to stare at directly, they are too bright. Perhaps the covers mentioned in the previous comments will make them better.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the lights are too bright but they will help to avert car and home crimes and it is always possible to make light blocking curtains for your apartment. And it is a very good idea to keep energy use as low as possible. But it's a good idea to ask the local politicians to advocate for a warmer bulb. I wonder if the city has already purchased 250,000 of this kind of bulb.

Anonymous said...

horrible awful. my landlord installed the same LED crap in our halls so I walk from bad light into even worse light. Hopefully this will be solved. I look out my window and I feel like a peeping Tom! I can see everything! Sigh...
Yes. everyone call 311

Anonymous said...

They're terrible :( My block feels like it's under surveillance - blasted with the icy blue light. And of course one street lamp is positioned directly outside my bedroom window. Feels like a morgue.

chance bliss said...

i prefer them to the old. i don't mind that they give off a colder light as i really didn't like the artificial orange glow of the older generation of lights.

we're also on the third floor - with a street light just outside our window. i find that it actually cast less light into our room and that, because of the color temperature, it feels less intrusive.

Mishy Mish said...

These new Led lights are the worst. They drive you crazy and you have no way to block them out from coming in your home even if you have the darkest shades it is never dark it is always daylight in your apartment they are the worst. NO SLEEP FOR BROOKLYN!

neil said...

Something to literally lose sleep over: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/streetlights-disrupt-sleep_us_56d51092e4b03260bf780136

I prefer the color over the sodium vapor ones, but the intensity is too much, and the angle needs to be calibrated downward. The ones I've seen don't have diffusers on so they blast light in all directions.

Anonymous said...

They're absolutely awful. At least put some covers on them! Yeesh. It's like living in a football stadium.

Vincent said...

It would seem there's an attempt to make nighttime look like daytime.....or possibly the Las Vegas strip.
LED bulbs come in different color/temperature: warm, neutral, cool, daylight.
LED bulbs are also available in different wattages, and watt for watt are brighter than conventional bulbs.
Personally, I think that the move to LED bulbs is smart. Now what's needed is a smart choice of LED bulb.

Anonymous said...

The new bulbs will apparently save energy, which is obviously a good thing. But the comments suggest that most, if not all, agree with me in finding these new lights to cast a harsh and invasively bright light, adding a kind of security-chic to this walkable, tree-lined neighborhood...an atmosphere with all the coziness of a four-lane highway.

It's true that in the past couple of years more and more neighbors have already installed such lights above their stoops in such a way that they penetrate bedroom windows across the street. And more and more cars now have blue-spectrum LED headlights that blind oncoming cars while increasing the visibility for the cars' drivers. The trend seems clear enough.

But I'm glad to learn from other helpful commenters that there may be an option for the city to someday install covers of some sort over these bare bulbs. We will see if that ever happens.

In the meantime, I file this change along with a bunch of other ongoing quality of life issues in New York City: noise, traffic, trash piles that are often not picked up until several days to a week or more late, leaf blowers that blow sidewalk grit straight into pedestrians' eyes or lungs, and so on.

I suppose, to keep this in perspective, it's really only when we see these LED cyclops eyes illuminating a floodscape ruled by Emperor Trump that we'll really know we've got problems. Until then, New Yorkers will adapt.

Anonymous said...

I think it's probably useful to point out in terms of the people that find it intrusive vs, those that don't seem to mind - that if you live on the side of the street opposite the street light, the angle of the 1960s/1970s lamp posts (curved upward) means that the lights are shining in to the apartments on to your side of the street. If you live on the same side of the street as the street light, you are likely not bothered by the glare. We live opposite the street lights on our block and we are quite bothered by the bright light coming through. It's like a spotlight.

Anonymous said...

I have found some of the streets in the neighborhood to be quite dark, esp early in the winter where I have even felt unsafe on some blocks. I apprecaite a healthy mix of the new lights to brighten up some of these dark blocks.

Nancy said...

Please get rid of the new lights. I can't creep around and peep into windows under these new lights. I'm feeling so lonely don't want to be noticed. thanks to all.

Anonymous said...

You guys need to SHut up and just buy shades for your window!!
LED lights is the future, don't like it? Then move upstate where's there's No lights!!

Bobby D said...

Back in the early 70's the city replaced the then prominent mercury vapor lights, which also cast a blue white light, with sodium vapor, which casts an orange yellow light. There were complaints back then which described the orange lights as ghastly, inhumane, etc. so I am chuckling to myself as there is nothing new under the sun.

Jo said...

I don't really like the new white street light in my neighborhood in Greenpoint. I am wondering if there is a way to deliver this concern to the city and hopefully they can understand and change it back to yellow color light instead of white.

Anonymous said...

These LED lights are a mistake that every city made in the past. Putting up the 4000K cool white lights has been mostly outlawed after the AMA report this summer but due to massive inventories that most manufacturers have in China, they keep going up. "Buying curtains" is not a solution as almost 40% of species on Earth are nocturnal and have trouble putting curtains up. The massive amount of blue light in the 4000K white street lights is incredibly dangerous for critters and people alike. Nocturnal species are naturally attracted or repelled from their natural habitats by the blue light in the spectrum which is completely artificial at night. It is really only a matter of time before a motorist is blinded by the street lights, hits someone and both parties file suit against the city. Street lights are normally blamed for an accident when they are not functioning but I read an article last week where a witness to a fatality blamed the intense glare from the street light and said they had complained to the local DOT many times after the lights were installed.