Street Lights

Street lights improve public safety by enhancing visibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. The Traffic Engineering Division installs additional street lights based on citizen requests. Most citizen requests are for mid-block street lights, since street lights are already in place at most City intersections.

Since intersection street lights usually provide adequate mid-block visibility for normal-length blocks, higher priority is given to mid-block street light requests from residents of blocks in excess of 600 feet in length. A petition signed by residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed mid-block site is required to demonstrate support from the residents who would be most affected by additional street lights.

How To Get Started:

  v  Identify potential street light location(s). Identify the location(s) for which you are considering a street light request. 

  v  Contact the Traffic Engineering Division to discuss feasibility. Traffic Engineering staff can provide you with important information about existing street lights and the potential for installing additional street lights in the identified neighborhood area. In evaluating street light requests, Traffic Engineering staff consider block length, night-time vehicular and pedestrian traffic volumes, accident and crime history, potential light obstructions (heavy foliage, hills, curves), and resident support for additional street lights. Traffic Engineering staff can also explain current street light funding availability. A limited amount of funding is set aside each budget year and utilized on a first-come, first-serve basis for the purchase and installation of additional street lights. 

  v  Determine level of resident support for additional street light(s). The installation of new street lights requires a street light request petition submitted by residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site. Before requesting a petition form from the Traffic Engineering Division, a resident should contact nearby residents to discuss their potential support for additional street lighting.

  v  If appropriate, obtain petition form from the Traffic Engineering Division. If Traffic Engineering staff indicate that an additional street light would be feasible at the proposed site, and if residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site are in favor of an additional street light, a resident should contact the Traffic Engineering Division to obtain a petition form to circulate for appropriate property owners’ signatures.

  v   Inform your district Alderperson of your street light request. Contact your district Alderperson to explain your street lighting concerns. Your Alderperson can work with Traffic Engineering staff to identify appropriate ways to address these concerns.

Commonly Asked Question:

Q: Can City residents report areas where trees obstruct light from street lights?

A:  Yes. Contact Traffic Engineering staff, who will work with the Forestry Section and nearby residents to find a solution that improves lighting while minimizing potential damage to valued trees.


Dan Dettmann

Traffic Engineering Division

Municipal Building, Rm. 100

215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 266-6536 Fax: 267-1158


Parking Lot Lighting

Parking lot lighting improves public safety by enhancing visibility for pedestrians. The Building Inspection Unit seeks to ensure that parking lot lighting is adequate for public safety purposes while also ensuring that residents in the immediate vicinity are not affected by unwanted light. The City’s role in parking lot lighting is limited in most cases to ensuring that minimum standards are met. In many circumstances, particularly on private property, the installation of additional exterior lighting is up to the discretion of individual property owners. The City recommends that neighborhood associations contact parking lot owners and adjacent residents about exterior lighting concerns before contacting City staff.

How To Get Started:

  v  Identify potential parking lot lighting improvements. Since the City’s role in parking lot lighting is limited by City ordinance, neighborhood associations who wish to enhance parking lot lighting in most cases must do so through cooperation with individual property owners. City ordinance requirements on parking lot lighting are as follows: 

      Commercial Parking Lots. City ordinance does not require owners of unlit commercial parking lots to install lighting fixtures, although City standards for energy conservation and light levels must be met if property owners choose to install lighting.

      Residential Parking Lots. If a residential parking lot in your neighborhood has at least four stalls and seems inadequately lit for public safety purposes, City ordinance may require additional lighting.

  v  Contact residents in immediate vicinity of parking lot. Nearby residents may be concerned about parking lot lighting being too bright or glaring through their windows. Contact these residents for their input prior to contacting the parking lot owner.

  v  Contact parking lot owner. Contact the parking lot owner to discuss your lighting and pedestrian safety concerns. If the property owner chooses to enhance parking lot lighting, you can then help adjacent residents and the property owner cooperate to choose the most appropriate exterior lighting arrangement.

  v  Acknowledge property owner for improvements. In person and in neighborhood publications (with the property owner’s permission), acknowledge property owners for parking lot lighting improvements.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q: Can City residents report exterior lighting that creates excessive glare through nearby residential windows?

A:  Yes. Contact Building Inspection staff who will investigate the situation and, where appropriate, contact property owners about adjusting lighting arrangements.

Q: How does the Building Inspection Unit measure light levels?

A:  Light levels are measured in foot candles. A foot candle is equal to the average amount of light that exists one foot away from a candle burning in darkness. One could easily read a newspaper in a parking lot with average lighting equal to one foot candle. For perspective, residential parking lots with four stalls or more are required to have an average light level equal to .75 foot candles.


Tom Adamowicz

Building Inspection Unit

Municipal Building, Rm. LL-100

215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 264-4551 Fax: 266-6522




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