3.6 Street and Pedestrian Lighting

Last Updated: 6-9-2017Print page

Street and pedestrian lighting is intended to create an environment at nighttime in which people can quickly and accurately identify objects. Street lighting can improve, safeguard, facilitate, and encourage vehicular and pedestrian traffic. SDOT is responsible for ensuring that recommended light levels are achieved and reviews street and pedestrian lighting requests. For more information on lighting in downtown areas, see the Downtown Design section.

Links to Standard Plans and Specifications

Standard Specifications, Section 8-30 Illumination and Electrical Systems
Standard Specifications, Section 9-31 Illumination and Electrical Materials
Standard Plans, Section 500 Signalization/Lighting
Streetlight Pole Catalog 
Principal Arterial-Grade Luminaires
Collector Arterial-Grade Luminaires
Residential Luminaires
Residential HPS Luminaires
Pedestrian-Scale HPS Luminaires

Design Guidance

  • Conformance with Local, State and National Standards: The design of all electrical and lighting systems shall be in conformance with the Seattle Lighting Level Design Guidelines, Seattle Municipal Code and National Electrical Code, the National Electrical Safety Code, Washington State Electrical Code WAC Chapter 296-45.
  • All lighting within the right-of-way should be analyzed when there are operational changes. For relocation of operational elements (e.g. crosswalks, bike lanes) lighting calculations are typically not required.
  • Lighting should be spaced to provide uniform illumination.
    • Streets that are 50 feet wide or less may have street lighting in an alternating pattern spaced every 180 feet. Where pedestrian lighting is present luminaires should be placed between street lighting luminaires at 60 foot spacing (i.e., two pedestrian luminaires).
    • Streets wider than 50 feet may have street lighting placed opposite each other and spaced every 250 feet. Where pedestrian lighting is present luminaires should be placed between street lighting luminaires at 50 foot spacing (i.e., four pedestrian luminaires).


streetlightingStreet Lighting

  • New or relocated street lighting—non-arterial streets: Street lighting for non-arterial streets should be designed using the most recent edition of the recommended IES guidelines, unless otherwise approved by Seattle City Light.
  • Arterial Street lighting: SDOT has established design guidelines for arterial street lighting. Existing street light systems may be required to meet the design standards and new street light systems shall be designed to them. During the review process additional information on type and style of luminaires will be provided. To maintain reliability and maintenance only fixtures approved by SCL will be acceptable.


pedlightingPedestrian Lighting

  • Pedestrian lighting improves visibility of pedestrians walking along and across the street and enhances security. Pedestrian scaled street lighting is directed toward the sidewalk, positioned lower than roadway lighting (luminaires are mount 12 to 14 feet above the sidewalk), and is more closely spaced than roadway lighting. This lighting should be considered when calculating the maintained foot candles and uniformity of roadway lighting. 
  • Pedestrian lighting can be used alone or in combination with roadway-scale lighting in high activity areas to encourage nighttime use. Pedestrian lighting can be located on the same pole as roadway lighting to reduce the number of poles within the landscape/furniture zone.
  • Prioritize pedestrian lighting in Pedestrian Lighting High Priority Areas (see Pedestrian Lighting Citywide Plan, 2012) or in areas where personal security is an issue suggested by MUP/SIP guidance.
  • Pedestrian ways not adjacent to the roadway may require lighting as determined by the Traffic Engineer. For additional information about lighting on non-arterial streets, contact Seattle City Light.
  • Intersection street lighting should be placed downstream of the curb ramps, perpendicular to the curb. Following FHWA guidance, luminaires should be located at least 10 feet from the crosswalk and positioned to light the side of the pedestrian facing the approaching vehicle.
  • Where feasible, lighting should be placed on the approach side of a mid-block pedestrian crossing (near side) to enhance visibility of pedestrians.
  • Lighting of public stairways should be prioritized near schools, transit stops, parks, and in areas with few alternative routes. A lighting diagram study that indicates actual lighting intensity should be provided.