A recap of community engagement for lighting up Boulder’s streets. Plus, what happens next?

In 2023, we asked what streetlight color temperatures you prefer for residential streets and major roadways. Here’s what we heard.

What does Boulder care about?

People prefer warmer lights.

Four different streetlight color temperatures

An example of streetlight temperature options for residential roadways. 55% of respondents favored option C (2700K) while 29% favored option D (2200K).

According to our community engagement, people overwhelmingly prefer warmer lights—for both residential streets and major roadways.

This perspective was consistent across results from a city Be Heard Boulder questionnaire as well as conversations with Community Connectors, a group of community members who support elevating underrepresented voices, and attendees of What’s Up Boulder, an annual city engagement event.

Respondents favored warmer light temperatures, or temperatures from 2700-3000K:

  • 84% of all questionnaire respondents preferred warmer lights for residential areas.
  • 79% of all questionnaire respondents preferred warmer lights for major roadways.

People want to reduce impacts to the environment.

Several people commented that warmer lights are less disruptive to wildlife, particularly for bird and insect migration, nocturnal animals and pollinators.

People want to travel safely.

Some respondents expressed a preference for brighter lights, especially in areas like busy streets or near colleges, for safety reasons when traveling. A few respondents described the need to squint in order to see objects in blue light, whereas warm light provided easier visibility.

People care about health, especially sleep health.

Some commenters shared that they were concerned about the effects of cooler light, or blue light, on health. People shared that warmer lights are less likely to disrupt their sleep patterns. Several respondents also expressed that warmer lights were more comfortable for their eyes, with less glare and strain.

Some respondents were concerned about the effects of cooler streetlights on physical conditions that may have sensitivities to light, such as seizure disorders, colorblindness and astigmatism.

Boulder flatirons at night with a starry sky

People care about Boulder looking and feeling beautiful.

People shared their preference for the aesthetic appeal of warmer lights and commented on the cozy, friendly feeling that warmer outdoor lights can add to a neighborhood. Respondents likened colder color temperatures to hospitals, industrial complexes, and feelings of stress and depression.

People want to protect dark skies.

We heard from many people who expressed that cooler light temperatures would lead to more light pollution. Many respondents prefer warmer lights and believe in protecting the visibility of Boulder’s starry night sky.

Now what? 

The city is deciding between viable light options. The city’s decision is expected in early 2024 and will be based on what we heard from the community and stakeholders, feedback from Community Connectors, data on costs and efficiency, and other technical considerations.

Stay tuned for updates in early 2024.

Stay in the know

Get the details on the project webpage or sign up for the city’s Climate Initiatives and Transportation and Mobility e-newsletters for monthly updates on projects.