Washington DC street lights, photo courtesy of NBC Washington

Jim Dougherty, a member of the Washington DC chapter of the Sierra Club bikes around the city every day looking for instances of light pollution. He says, “Some lights are too bright. A lot of the lights light directly up or sideways.”

Simply stated, all these bright, glaring lights “waste electricity, confuse nocturnal animals and make it difficult for humans to sleep.”

A police spokeswoman is taking the side of the bright lights, and, while Dougherty and others agree that some lights are necessary, the concern is where the lighting is too bright and going up into the sky rather than down where it would be most effective and least light polluting.

Thankfully, the city council and D.C.’s Department of Transportation are taking steps to begin to reduce light pollution. The city agreed to conduct an outdoor lighting study, due to be completed this October, after Council member Mary Cheh’s bill promoting “smarter” lights failed to pass.

Steps are underway to replace some of the cities lights; DDOT is installing 1,000 energy efficient lights in city alleyways. While this is a start, there is much more work to be done and activists like Dougherty will “not go quietly into the night” until real progress is made.