For 90% of French people, street lighting is a critical safety issue – 1/3 of the inhabitants of average-sized towns are particularly unhappy about their street lighting
Cergy, 11 March 2014 – Street lighting is a significant item of expenditure for town halls. It represents on average over 30% of a municipality’s electricity costs. Yet, 20% of French people consider that their streets are poorly lit. For future mayors, there is scope for improvement without losing control of public spending. A majority of French people consider that lighting needs, first and foremost, to be adapted to the local neighbourhood based on the time and the day (47%) and existing lights need to be replaced by more energy-efficient lighting (73%).
Harris Interactive survey for SPIE carried out online from 14 to 17 February 2013 on a representative sample of 1,766 French citizens aged 18 or over.
Public lighting is, for the vast majority of French people (90%), a critical element that contributes to ensuring their safety. The Harris Interactive survey for SPIE shows, however, that 20% of French people consider that their streets are poorly lit.
When asked about the lighting of their town as a whole, over a quarter of French people (26%) state that they consider it unsatisfactory. Those that state that they consider it unsatisfactory, are members of the working classes (30%), inhabitants of towns with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 (35%) and people living in social housing (35%). Only 11% of French people say that they are very satisfied with the street lighting in their town.
Excessive consumption and expenditure – the main drawbacks of public lighting
The main drawback for 45% of French people is excessive energy consumption. This is followed by excessive public expenditure (34%) even though a very large majority (83%) underestimate the true proportion of public lighting in the electricity costs incurred by towns.
3 expectations – sustainable development, reduction in public spending and equipment efficiency
More generally, the survey shows that for 44% of French citizens, the question of sustainable development is not adequately taken into account in the decisions taken by their municipal authorities. With regard to the future, more than half of French people (54%) believe that sustainable development should figure more prominently. The inhabitants of the largest French towns being more likely to voice this desire than those living in rural communities (61% vs 49%). Mindful of the issue of public funding, almost three quarters of French people (73%) are convinced that it is possible to reconcile environmental issues and a reduction in public spending. In so far as concerns street lighting, the preferred solution for all categories of respondents would be measures to improve the energy efficiency of the lights used.
“Some may have thought that the need to reduce public spending would have dealt a serious blow to the demands of French citizens with regard to sustainable development, in particular in their local environment” said Daniel Boscari, Project Financing and "local authorities" Development Director at SPIE. “On the contrary, these demands are still very much present and French people even consider that they can, by and large, be reconciled with policies to keep spending under control and install energy-efficient equipment. It appears that public awareness campaigns aimed at reducing energy consumption at home by installing more energy-efficient equipment have also borne fruit with regard to the expectations of our fellow citizens in the area of public lighting.”