Dark Skies Over Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh officials asked researchers at CMU’s Remaking Cities Institute to observe the installations in 2010; Quick was a research associate on the project. The new LEDs were centered mainly in the city’s business districts, commercial areas, and major roadways. Five years later, Quick’s team conducted another study on streetlighting. They found that all the LED lights they tested produced significant glare problems.

“People think that by making light at night equivalent to daylight that that’s the best solution. But trying to simulate daylight is a real problem.” Quick said. His team found that once people’s eyes adjust to the dark, it’s difficult to shift back and forth between darkness and simulated daylight. Our capacity to transition quickly in and out of night vision degrades as we get older, along with our reaction time. So, for example, reacting to a potential hazard on a dark street right after turning off a heavily lit freeway becomes more difficult with age.