Solar-powered LED ‘bricks’ improve safety on Scottish cycle path


BEAR Scotland, a leading infrastructure management and maintenance company, has chosen a solar-powered solution for a cycle path illumination project that it was managing for its client, Transport Scotland.

A cyclist fatality on the A9 dual carriageway north of Perth highlighted a pressing requirement to illuminate the adjacent one-mile (1.5km) long cycle path, to encourage more people to use it during the hours of darkness. In consultation with the local council, BEAR Scotland, which is responsible for maintaining Scotland’s trunk road network in the North East and North West, looked for a solution that would enhance security and improve visibility for cyclists and pedestrians in the evenings and early mornings.

Ensuring the safety of drivers was of paramount importance. BEAR did not want to install lighting that could potentially distract drivers on that stretch of the A9, and as the cycle path is sited in a rural location, it was essential that the lighting was not intrusive, which ruled out street lighting. There were additional cost implications associated with laying the infrastructure for an on-grid solution and BEAR also wished to avoid painting white lines, as it is a shared facility, remote from the carriageway, and this would present an ongoing maintenance requirement.

BEAR Scotland selected the Solar LED Brick from Zeta Specialist Lighting, a UK-based developer and manufacturer of LED and solar-powered lighting systems. The Solar Brick is an off-grid LED system that produces effective, even illumination, and is waterproof and shock and pressure resistant. The Solar LED Bricks were installed along the centre of the path at 60ft (18m) intervals where there were no hazards, and at 30ft (9m) intervals at give-way points. One of the biggest benefits is that the Solar LED Bricks sit flush along the path, unlike cat’s eyes that sit proud on the surface, meaning there are no bumps, which eliminates the risk of cyclists hitting them with tyres or pedestrians tripping over.

The IP68-rated Solar Brick’s super capacitor stores the suns energy during the day and provides enough power for a working time of over 12 hours per charge, lighting up automatically at dusk and switching off at dawn. Compared with traditional lighting, Zeta’s Solar LED Bricks delivered a cost-efficient, long-term sustainable solution. The overall environmental impact of solar-powered lighting is much lower than a mains-powered system. Both the cost and time associated with installation is also significantly less; running costs are zero, and as the typical lifetime of the LEDs is 39,500 hours, there is no requirement for ongoing maintenance.

“High level lighting was not suitable in this area,” explained Eric Hill, senior engineer for road safety at BEAR Scotland’s North West Unit. “The Zeta Solar LED Brick provided us with an ideal solution for this unique requirement. There is no other product like it. We are also considering other locations where we can install Solar LED Bricks to provide illumination.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).