Hospitality/Leisure, How to Light, Outdoor

How to Light: Three ways to light a park footpath

Alan Tulla takes a stroll to mull over park footpath lighting 

Parks have footpaths, and if the park is open at night they have to be illuminated. Safety always comes first, so the path must be clearly delineated; any changes of level or direction must be visible and other pedestrians should be easy to recognise from a distance.

It is also advisable to light the path’s immediate surroundings. People won’t feel secure if they think someone could be hiding in the darkness just a few metres away. Here, we have also illuminated the water feature where people congregate by night and day.

There is plenty of guidance about the illumination that is necessary. For a public footpath, you should refer to BS 5489: 2013. As ever, there is a wealth of information from the SLL and ILP. Never forget that vertical illumination on people’s faces is as important as horizontal illumination at ground level.

Maintenance is always a problem. There is no point in fitting long-life lamps or LEDs if the luminaires are easily vandalised and have to be replaced.

Finally, always think about how the path will look by day as well as at night. Most people will see the path by day. You decide whether it will look attractive or unattractive – there’s usually little difference in cost.

The path is 2.5m wide with a gravel finish. For the purposes of this Design Clinic, I have designed the lighting to achieve an average of about 30 lx on the path. This is quite high but lower illumination levels such as 10 lx would mean far fewer luminaires in view and the result wouldn’t show the light distribution so well in the renderings.




The Kingfisher Viva-City (well done to whoever thought of the clever name) can be post-top mounted or side-entry, but has an asymmetric optic giving a ‘streetlighting-type’ distribution. It means you can space them widely apart relative to their mounting height. There is quite a bit of forward throw across the path and just a little rearward. The lantern can be further tilted up to 15 degrees to increase the forward throw.

This type of optical distribution is designed both for roads and amenity, so the lantern works best with long footpaths where you want just a little light on the neighbouring verges and surroundings.

A useful design feature of the Viva-City is that the LEDs are mounted on boards so the same lantern is available with one, two, three, five or seven modules, giving a range of light outputs.

Tech spec
  • LuminairesKingfisher Viva-City
  • Optical controlLenses
  • Arrangement Single-sidedAverage horizonta lilluminance on path in foreground 35 lx
  • Electrical load3W per linear metre for this levelof illuminancePros Allows for wide spacings
  • Cons
  • Limited spill light rearwards



Unlike the fitting in our first option, the Tauri is a post-top lantern with a symmetrical distribution. In plan-view, the isolux lines would be concentric circles. This means that you can’t space the lanterns as far apart but much more light is spread all around.

There is less shadowing around the columns and the grass receives more light. This type of optical distribution works well with large open spaces such as piazzas and shopping precincts.

The Kingfisher Tauri is available for a whole range of HID lamps (from 45-150W) but we have used a 40W LED module because of the longer life. Interestingly, the LEDs are mounted in the top and shine downwards so the polycarbonate bowl appears totally clear. Unfortunately, photometric files don’t always reproduce the shape of the lantern correctly.

Tech spec
  • LuminairesKingfisher TauriOptical control LensesArrangementSingle-sidedAverage horizontal illuminance on path in foreground30 lxElectrical load 3W per linear metre for this level of illuminancePros Suitable for any open spaceConsLess efficient for long, narrow path



For large private gardens and public areas where there is little vandalism, bollards can be a good solution. Kingfisher has a huge range of bollards and the Quadrio is one I particularly like. Bollards are more human in scale and seem less ‘functional’ than some other types of lighting. Mind you, this is a pretty tough unit that is IK10 impact resistant.

Over two-thirds of the height of the 1m-tall bollard is luminous and emits a soft glow through the opal polycarbonate diffuser. Light comes from a 55Q twin-limb compact fluorescent lamp.

The Quadrio, unsurprisingly, is square in section and made of die-cast aluminium with a polyester powder coat finish.

As mentioned above, to try and make the schemes comparable, I have designed them to the same illuminance level of 30 lx. In this case, it has meant more bollards than one would normally use.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Kingfisher QuadrioOptical control Opal diffuserArrangement single sidedAverage horizontal illuminance on path in foreground 32 lxElectrical load 7.3W per linear metre for this level of illuminancePros Human scaleConsYou need more luminaires per length of path