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Bat-friendly Highway Lighting First for the U.K.

Lighting the way for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and… bats? Jacobs and Worcestershire County Council collaborate on the first bat highway crossing in the U.K.

Picture this: A crossing for pedestrians, cyclists and those using mobility scooters that enhances local connectivity in Worcestershire, U.K. The difference? While the road is illuminated with ‘typical’ white LED lights, the crossing is lit up with colored LED lights to facilitate typical behavior of bats, who respond to the red light as they would the dark.

Jacobs, in collaboration with Worcestershire County Council, knew that there was a need to light the road for the new crossing and couldn’t provide a dark area where the nocturnal mammals could fly from one side to the other, as would be the conventional solution.

Some species of bat don’t interact well with white lighting; it can prevent them from accessing food and water if they are unwilling to cross lit areas such as roads. Bright street lights can also attract the insects that bats usually feed on, reducing food in the locations they would tend to feed. The red light, in contrast, is wildlife-friendly and enables bats to fly and feed normally.

We knew of successful schemes in the Netherlands that had used red lighting to minimize the impact on wildlife and proposed this as an option to trial. This is the first set of bat-friendly highway lights to be switched on in the U.K.; if the trial is successful, the Institution of Lighting Professionals will update the guidance and standards. Already, video footage has shown the crossing being used by bats.

The project has won the award for Environmental Sustainability Project of the Year from the Institute of Highway Engineers, and the lights have been described as “ground-breaking” by the county council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Pollock.

The composition of the light has been developed to suit not just bats and other local wildlife, but residents and road users as well. The lights do not affect visibility for anyone using the roads and conform to the required safety standards.

Jacobs employee Stuart Morton who has worked on the project explained what it means to him, “We work on major projects all over the country which are nationally significant, but it’s extra special to contribute something as innovative and important as this back into our local community.”

Jacobs has been in partnership with Worcestershire County Council for almost 25 years, providing highways and Transportation consultancy support in a range of discipline areas.

News of the trial also flew far afield reaching more than 300 media outlets across the U.K., Europe and the U.S.

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