LED Street Lights Ignite Anger in Rome

Rome, with its ancient architecture and timeless beauty, is especially magnificent at night when the city is bathed in a golden halo thanks to the yellow sodium street lights. However, this may soon be a thing of the past as LED street lights gradually take over. The new lights have angered local residents, as The New York Times reports.
The Via dei Fienili street in Rome. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Before Virginia Raggi, the current mayor of Rome, took office, the city had decided to switch its street lights to LED ones. And since she took up the position in June, around 100,000 LED lights have been installed, meaning the €48-million project is now halfway to completion. The switchover is expected to save the city millions of euros in electricity bills every year as well as provide brighter light in some dark spots for safety concerns.
That said, responses from locals have been mostly discouraging. Some complained the white-hued LEDs cast a harsh, strong and cold light that destroys the traditional romance of the Eternal City.
However, some locals think the benefits of the new lights, including cost savings and low environmental impact, actually outweigh the disadvantages. Supporters of the scheme also believe lighting has little influence on Rome’s charm.
After consultation with Rome’s cultural authorities, officials decided to use a warmer tones of light in the city center. But this is unlikely to provide any comfort to opponents of LED street lights.
Rome is not alone when it comes to the fight over LEDs. With all the benefits that LED street lights have, many cities have already jumped on the LED bandwagon. However, after the American Medical Association published a report in 2016 cautioning the negative impacts high intensity LED bulbs can have on people’s health, there has been fierce backlash from residents in Washington DCThe struggle over how to light a city seems to be an issue that cannot easily be glossed over.
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