Gabriel Diaz Professor Dawn Trook

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Gabriel Diaz

Professor Dawn Trook

Writing 10-25D

April 28, 2010

Light the Way

When it’s dark outside, it’s important to have lights to keep the darkness away and allow people to see clearer. On the way to the University of California, Merced, the two main roads (Bellevue Road and Lake Road) are unlighted, which creates an unsafe environment for drivers, (especially UC students) who commute using these roads practically every day, pedestrians who walk on the side of the road, and bikers. The inability for drivers to see their surroundings clearly on the road poses a big safety problem that needs to be fixed. Street lights must be implemented on these roads to help light up the city and make it safer for people passing through the area.

UC Merced was built directly on top of Merced Hills Golf Course. Being the not-so-big city that it is, it’s probable that not too many people used the golf course. With this in mind, the city at the time figured that they should focus more of their funds on other projects within the main region of Merced and didn’t consider the street lighting of the roads an issue at the time. The land that UC Merced was built on was donated by the Virginia Smith Trust parcel, which is a charitable trust that provides college scholarships to high school students in the Merced area. With the school established and here to stay, it is necessary for the implementation of street lights.

It’s important for the city to invest money into lighting up the streets. Some of the many benefits of general street lighting for the community include reduced road accidents, reduction of crime, reduction of the fear of crime, preventable night-time personal injury accidents, promoting sustainable transport such as cycling and walking, providing the freedom to walk along and use the streets after dark, and providing after-dark access to the educational facility known as UC Merced.

With the roads being pitch black at night, people who drive in the area tend to drive over the speed limit, with the thought that there is a low risk of getting caught and receiving a ticket by a police officer. With the roads lighted with street lights, these drivers will be more easily visible, and so they will feel less ‘transparent’ and won’t feel that they blend-in with the darkness anymore. There have been cases of people driving over 100 miles per hour on these roads because these drivers feel that they won’t get caught speeding. At night, this is even more dangerous because if a biker is on the main road at night with no lights, or a person is crossing the road at that same instant, the likelihood of an accident by the biker, the person, or even the driver, are very high. With the execution of this plan to put street lights on these two main roads that lead to UC Merced, the area is sure to maintain safeness from this point onwards.

There isn’t necessarily a ‘main cause’ for the problem of not already having lights on Bellevue and Lake Road—there was simply no need for lights in the area in the past. With the Merced Hills Golf Course and Lake Yosemite being the main attractions of the area that involves the use of these roads to get to these places, the city of Merced could focus more on putting street lights in more ‘darker’ parts of Merced that need them.

The basic foundation of this project is the establishment of a plan to have these street lights put on the side of Bellevue and Lake Road as soon as possible. First, the length of each road must be determined, and after calculating how many lights can be put on the side of each road, the spacing between each light must be calculated. The few people that live on the side of both roads must all be notified that lights will be put on the roads, as the people who live near these roads deserve to know firsthand that something significant is being done to make the city safer.

The type of lights that will be used must also be determined. There are two main colored lights (although their color is mainly depicted by how dark it is): white and yellow. Various cities may have different preferences on what kind of lights to use. For example, the city of Hercules, CA, uses both types of lights. Yellow lights are part of the older part of the city, while the newer parts of the city are full of white lights, or a lot of yellow lights closely spaced. When one is outside in the newer area of Hercules with the lights closely spaced together, it’s as if the sun is out, but is emitting yellow light. Typically, yellow lights are ‘older’ than white lights, which is why white ones are more preferred now compared to the original yellow. There is a multitude of factors that cities must consider from when deciding which colored light to use. Yellow/orange lights can allow one to see through fog better, so this is a possible reason to put this colored light. However, most people have fog lights installed in their vehicle, so maybe it would be better to have white lights that are much brighter and more of a fluorescent light-like color. Simple factors like the two just mentioned must be considered, and after figuring out the pros and cons of each type of light, the type of light has to be determined and voted upon by a majority.

Depending on the budget made specifically for this project, the amount of lights as well as the type of lights may already be determined. With these new lights instigated, the city has to possibly ration out energy power to be able to use these lights without reducing or significantly increasing the amount of power already being used. These lights should be monitored and used carefully, making sure that they’re on at night, and by the break of morning, turned off. UC Merced already has a similar system in their residence halls. Around 7pm every night, the ‘porch lights’ turn on, and around 7am, turn off. Doing this allows the lights to be used when needed, while energy is conserved since they’re not being used when they aren’t needed.

Until this proposal is accepted and the plan of putting street lights on the sides of these two main roads is galvanized and progresses rapidly until the project reaches success, these roads will remain unsafe (not as safe) to everyone. Metaphorically, these lights will ‘light the way to education’ as they lead people to UC Merced, which is the learning facility of education. There can even be a slogan made for these lights if they prove to be “awe-inspiring” and more than just lights. They can “light up the way to success” as well as education. There are many possibilities available for this proposal, which is why it would be great if it is accepted.

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