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Commentary: Removing lights from Luxembourg motorways – not such a bright idea!
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Commentary: Removing lights from Luxembourg motorways – not such a bright idea!

3 min. 12.04.2014 From our online archive
When it was declared that the street lights were being torn down, many people thought, including me, that this was not such a bright idea!

Commentary article by Adam Walder

When the government announced that “lights out” was imminent for some sections of Luxembourg's motorways, most of us saw the reasoning behind it. Although there were a few safety issue grumbles, it was generally accepted to be the right direction to go; economically and environmentally speaking, that is.

But when it was subsequently declared that the street lights were also being torn down, it became a totally different matter and many of us thought, including me, that this was not such a bright idea.

We were told that by switching the lights off, about 750,000 euros per year could be saved, but already this appears to be a false figure as the cost of actually removing the lights is bound to take a sizeable chunk out that amount. 

It may be coincidental but the government is also quoting the figure of 750,000 euros as the amount it would cost to replace these "old" lights with new more efficient ones. What that means is there are no plans for replacements, so there's no going back, at least for the foreseeable future.

Once we heard the news that motorway lights were being removed, the original argument that switching lights off in some areas could reduce safety on motorways resurfaced and indeed this is a matter to be studied, but it's already too late for that!

What bothers me the most about this, is the fact that the government appears to have rushed into it like a bat out of hell, switching off lights and tearing them down before a decent amount of time for analysis was given. Why not switch the lights off for a six-month to one-year period, study the results as to whether there are safety or accident issues and only then make a decision as to whether they need to be removed?

The situation got me musing that this is a rather funny country we live in. Laws such as the smoking ban take years to come to any final decision, not to mention the Bommeleeër trial decades on with still no end in sight. Yet we can pull down street lights tomorrow if we like! I know these are three completely different cases, but still, gets you thinking right?

We have also been told that these street lights needed to come down anyway as they reached the end of their life, but surely six months more wouldn't do any harm? What if tomorrow we discover a major accident black-spot in one of the locations where a street lamp has been removed? Will one be put back? 

Adding to that, although I'm no expert, studying the pictures snapped by Luxemburger Wort photographers, the lampposts taken down look quite healthy in my opinion and rather shiny and new.

There’s another use for street lights that are still there but switched off. If there happens to be a serious incident or accident in a dark area, the situation can be greatly helped with decent immediate lighting, i.e. simply switch the lights on near the emergency site! Surely this is preferable rather than waiting for the emergency services to arrive and set up their lighting equipment.

So my conclusion is thus: not enough time or thought has gone into the project. If the whole aim of the scheme is to save as much money as possible now, then the lights should have simply been switched off. In a year's time when the country could well be approaching better financial climes, and a study completed as to whether safety has declined or not after switch off, then the decision should be made whether or not to remove the lights.

That's my bright idea, what do you think?

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