What Light Pollution Ordinances Could Mean for C-stores

By: Lance Winslow.

We all know that well lit c-stores attract more clientele at night. Folks, especially women feel safer in a well lit environment. Indeed, studies and surveys show that it is actually safer, and humans seem to inherently know this. Perhaps, the reasoning has to do with the basic “crime triangle” – that is to say for a crime to occur three things are needed:

1. A Perpetrator (criminal)

2. A Location

3. An Opportunity

A brightly lit convenience store tends to remove the opportunity due to risk/reward for the criminal in that they will most likely get caught, and witnesses will see them and turn them in, therefore they keep going and look for other opportunities, and safer locations to do their criminal activity. That’s why a well-lit facility works.

Now then, with high energy costs, which may, in fact, triple in the upcoming years due to more regulations on coal-fired plants and subsidized alternative energy – keeping a brightly lit facility may be a problem. Perhaps, that’s why more and more of us are going to LED lighting to save both energy and money, and collect some tax breaks to boot.

Nevertheless, there is an on-going battle running in many urban areas and big cities with regards to the proliferation of LED Billboards. The opponents of these billboards have shown that they are highly distracting to motorists and cause more pedestrian, bicycle, and multi-car accidents – the research appears to confirm this, although some of that could indeed be due to the increase of text-messaging while driving, compounded with the billboard distractions – time and more research will tell.

Indeed, there was a very interesting segment recently on KCET Los Angeles News titled “Bright Lights, Big City” by Reporter Judy Muller, Producer Karen Foshay and Editor Alberto Arce, which noted that in the long ongoing battle in Los Angeles’ Westside against LED Billboards there is a new challenge: human health. The segment started with this comment: “Light pollution may be a more serious concern than you think. New evidence suggests that a lack of darkness in our urban night skies contributes to air pollution, making it a matter of public health. Yet Los Angeles keeps rolling out bigger, brighter signs.”

Will local neighborhoods ask convenience stores to also curtail their brightness? Will local governments step in and create more regulations? If so, that will mean fewer sales in the evenings, thus, hurting business. Perhaps fewer patrons will wish to wonder very far from their cars when pumping fuel. Fewer trips into the c-store will mean fewer sales on high-profit impulse items.

Is this a future threat? It very well could be.

For those c-stores who have signed agreements with Billboard Companies sporting large LED Multi-media Billboards, that could cost a few bucks each month in rental or lease revenues from those Billboards in the future. Either way, this could be a future threat to the industry, albeit not a game changer, it might still slightly alter the dynamics and cost your c-store future revenue. I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

By Lance Winslow

www.carwashguy.com

  • Forresterickson

    Dear Lance,

    Being a good neighbor is always good business. Proponents of intelligent lighting have constructive ideas which C-Store owners should consider.

    Proverbially, coal miners took canaries into the mines to provide warning of air problems. If lighting were a coal mine amateur astronomers would be a canary.

    Start here to learn more: http://www.darksky.org/ about lighting which does not spill light into the sky where it does no one any good.

    Forrest Erickson

  • Jina Saccacio

    Proper exterior lighting at c-stores should enhance safety. More light is not the answer, light where you need it is. By properly shielding lights and directing them downward, you increase visibility while reducing light pollution.This also reduces shadows where criminals lurk.Lighting ordinances will enhance all businesses when proper lighting is installed. The safety risks with LED billboards aren’t worth the assumed advertising benefits and may actually harm a businesses’ image. Learn more about light pollution at http://www.britelitesout.com and http://www.facebook.com/Britelitesout.

  • Jina Saccacio

    Proper exterior lighting at c-stores should enhance safety. More light is not the answer, light where you need it is. By properly shielding lights and directing them downward, you increase visibility while reducing light pollution.This also reduces shadows where criminals lurk.Lighting ordinances will enhance all businesses when proper lighting is installed. The safety risks with LED billboards aren’t worth the assumed advertising benefits and may actually harm a businesses’ image. Learn more about light pollution at http://www.britelitesout.com and http://www.facebook.com/Britelitesout.

  • User

    The trick is to light smarter, not brighter. Eliminating glare and “light trespass” keeps the complaints away, so consider recessed lights under canopies instead of the typical Scottsdale blast-light-everywhere approach.

  • V Diaz

    Proper lightning is an important safety factor at c-stores but the emphasis is on the word “proper”. Efficient lightning can be achieved without adding to the growing “light pollution” problem by projecting the light-sources downward where it’s needed and not up into the sky where it does no one any good. We need to collectively preserve one of our natural resources which are dark, glare free skies. Proper lightning will conserve energy, conserve capital and preserve our environment.

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