City of Madison Logo
This project is to provide path lighting for the first phase of the Cannonball Path. Construction of the path itself was begun in 2010 and will be completed in early-2011. This path will ultimately be one segment of the overall 4+ mile Cannonball path, an important commuter route linking areas of Fitchburg and Arbor Hills neighborhood with downtown Madison. As a general policy Madison tries to provide lighting for major paths with significant commuter / transportation usage. Madison is the lead agency for this project, with cooperation and cost participation from the City of Fitchburg. A public meeting in November 2010 to get neighborhood input on the initial lighting concept.

The total length of path to be lighted is about 1.3 miles, including a mile of main path and several connecting paths.

Project is currently under design. Construction is tentatively scheduled for late- 2011.

The total estimated cost for lighting is about $100,000

Issues of exact pole location, fixture height and type and hours of operation are still under consideration and final plans have not been completed.

Public Works Contract
Contract Number: 6690

Public Comments
Have a question or comment on this project? Use the Public Comment Form.
Posted: 08/27/2012
Are the proposed lights for this project the same kind of overhead LED lights proposed for the Southwest Path?

There has been major resistance to that project from both path users and area residents due to the significant detrimental effects of these first-generation LED luminaires and the near total loss of user's night vision from resulting glare in their visual field.

Lighting and transportation experts (one of whom wrote the WISDOT manual on bike path lighting) have also pointed out that non-uniformity of light from this type of overhead installation would make crashes *more* likely.

This is a result of the the difficulty in adapting effectively to the light/dark transitions as users travel along the path. It is also well known that just about any type of stranger assault is facilitated by overhead lights, and this is borne out by a comparison of crimes on lighted vs. unlighted sections of path in Madison and surrounding areas.

Riders and walkers who have actually seen the SW path test fixtures at night point out that they are glaringly bright and greatly reduce usability and comfort for users on the path. I have never met anyone who has actually seen them (at night) who still thinks they are a good choice.

Why is City and Traffic Engineering continually pushing the most ineffective and disruptive kind of lighting on our valuable bike paths in Madison and surrounding areas? There are so many other sensible lighting approaches that would be much more effective, less expensive and much lower power that haven't even been looked at, and won't be, if these absurdly inappropriate fixtures are installed.

How does it benefit anyone (except maybe MG&E and McGraw Edison-Cooper Lighting) to unnecessarily couple tons of C02 emission to the acts of biking and walking, while simultaneously wrecking people's visual acuity, destroying the night sky and trashing natural habitats?

Introducing lights like this is one of the most profound changes to a natural environment that a society can make, because it is constant and basically permanent. It is known to be disruptive to people and nature on many levels, for little, if any, actual benefit.

The dominant shorter-wavelength spectral content of these new LED fixtures (yes, even the warmer ones) is now known to be particularly disruptive to natural circadian and seasonal rhythms.

Here are some interesting links to more info on the topic of responsible outdoor lighting, including links to various scientific studies:

Southwest Path Alliance

City Staff Response:
Yes these are the same fixtures.
Posted: 07/18/2012
There are some lessons here about lighting, pavement, etc. on the Cannonball and Southwest paths, which seem to be similar to these Danish "bicycle superhighways":
From The New York Times:
COPENHAGEN JOURNAL: Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway
Denmark, already a cycling nation, is trying to encourage commuting to Copenhagen by bicycle by opening what it calls cycle superhighways.
(Reminder: I support lighting these paths.)
Posted: 07/06/2012
Please consider the light pollution when adding more city lights to the trail. as it is, we have lights all along the path from the school parking lot, the water pump station, the apartments, and farther down: car dealership parking lots. Not to mention moonlight. Why we need more lighting, I don't really know. I really want to preserve the night sky for us to enjoy the stars, and for the night life animals that live along the path. For more information, please watch this program on PBS:

Posted: 12/20/2011
How tall are the lights?

City Staff Response:
20 ft tall black poles. The presentation with the details can be found on the project website.
Posted: 11/08/2011
Could you kindly provide the status of the Cannonball trail lighiting
project? What was the outcome of the Madison City Council vote on it
from last Month?
Darren Stucker

City Staff Response:
The Common Council approved the Cannonball Path lighting plan on 10/18/11.  City of Madison forces will install the bases and light poles beginning  in the spring of 2012.