BMX track lighting: your biggest questions answered

While professional floodlighting systems can often be found at football, hockey, and rugby grounds, they tend to be far less common at BMX tracks. That situation is gradually beginning to change, however, with clubs becoming increasingly aware of the benefits they offer – a better environment for riders and the chance to maximise utilisation amongst them.


Planning out a floodlighting system can also be a complex task, though. Unlike other sports, there are no common standards or regulations when it comes to BMX track lighting, leaving plenty of room for interpretation. Combined with the technical considerations that go hand-in-hand with modern lighting systems, many clubs find themselves left with more questions than answers.


In this short guide, we’ll tackle those questions head-on. From the benefits that floodlighting can bring, to the key things to know before you buy, let’s look at some of the most important things to know about BMX lighting.


Why is high-quality lighting important on a BMX track?


While this might seem like an obvious question on the surface, good lighting matters more than you might think. Generally, there are four key areas in which a professionally designed lighting system can benefit your track.

  • Safety
    First and foremost, a well-lit BMX track is a safer BMX track. High-quality lighting improves rider visibility, which helps to minimise the risk of collisions and other accidents.

  • Performance
    Building on the above, visibility can be an enabler of enhanced performance, too. The better that riders can see, the more confident they’ll feel – ensuring that they can perform to the peak of their potential.

  • Experience
    You don’t have to be on a bike to benefit from better lighting. For fans and spectators, great lighting makes for a more engaging and exciting trackside experience, something that can boost attendances and drive revenues.

  • Compliance
    While there’s no general specification for BMX track lighting, local authorities do often set their own parameters. A high-quality lighting system is usually enough to meet – and exceed – those stipulations.


What are the main things to think about when it comes to track lighting?


Not all lighting systems are the same. In fact, the choices you make when specifying your track floodlighting can have an impact on everything from energy efficiency and running costs through to overall visibility. To ensure that the system you get is right for your needs, there are a few key issues to think about before any decisions are made.


  • Visibility and illumination
    While they might share certain similarities, the specifics of BMX tracks can be quite different. As a result, a lighting system that delivers great visibility and illumination at one track can underperform elsewhere. That makes it important for a lighting design to reflect the unique needs of your own site, taking things like size, layout, and ambient lighting into account.

  • Longevity and durability
    If you run an outdoor BMX track, it’s worth remembering that your floodlights will be exposed to the elements; wind, rain, heat, and snow included. This means that manufacturing quality is critically important, as it plays a major role in protecting against those conditions. Look for features like stainless steel bodies and heatsinks as evidence of durability and good design.

  • Short and long term cost
    Cost is one of the most important issues when it comes to a lighting system. What isn’t always immediately clear, though, is that a system that appears cheaper on the surface might be more expensive over the long run. LED lighting tends to have a higher upfront cost, for instance, but energy and maintenance savings more than make up for that over time.

Should I opt for an LED lighting system?

Today, most floodlighting systems generate light in one of two different ways: high-intensity discharge (HID) or via light-emitting diodes (LEDs). HID lamps are an older technology, and use gases like sodium vapour to create light. LEDs are a newer alternative, and use tiny semiconductors as a source of light. These fundamentally different approaches lead to some key differences between the two.

  • Energy efficiency
    LEDs use far less energy than HID alternatives. Naturally, that not only makes them better for the environment, it also makes them cheaper to run as well.

  • Warmup time
    It can take as long as 30 minutes for a gas-based floodlight to reach its full output, which is as expensive as it is inconvenient. LEDs switch on and off instantaneously – minimising wastage and providing greater control.

  • Longevity
    In the time that it takes an LED floodlight to reach the end of its lifespan, a gas bulb will need to have been replaced between three and five times. That represents a significant additional maintenance cost.

  • Colour rendering
    Colour rendering affects our ability to detect colours and textures accurately. LEDs deliver excellent performance in this field, enhancing the overall visual experience for riders and spectators alike.

What is the optimal layout for a BMX lighting system?


As noted above, for a BMX lighting system to be truly effective, it needs to be designed around the specifics of the track at which it is being installed. That means taking the following kinds of issues into account:

  • Track size and layout
    Coverage is one of the most critical aspects of good lighting design, and larger tracks usually require more luminaires (and masts) to light effectively. The track layout also needs to be considered, with floodlights positioned safely around turns, ramps, and other features. 

  • Angles, spacing, and height
    Lighting “uniformity” is a measure of how consistently light falls across a given area; when uniformity is low, visibility tends to be much patchier, and shadows more harsh. A number of things have an impact on uniformity, from the height at which luminaires are mounted and the spacing between them, through to the angle they’re aimed at.

  • Controls and dimming
    One of the major benefits to LED luminaires is that they can be dimmed below their maximum output. That’s particularly useful for practice sessions, where money and power can be saved by running lights at a lower setting. The addition of lighting controls to a system also allows you to make quick adjustments to features like colour temperature.

One important thing to remember here is that any professional lighting provider should be able to manage these issues for you. At Midstream, for instance, our complimentary lighting design service offers complete reassurance that your lighting system will deliver the best possible performance for your track.


How could I benefit from a professional lighting system?


There’s no better answer to that question than in some of the results seen by our own customers…

Merton Saints – replacing a number of old metal-halide fittings, Midstream’s luminaires are helping to deliver new levels of safety and performance at this club in Southwest London.

Peckham BMX Track – further east in the capital, our Modus R1000 floodlights are delivering incredible uniformity in combination with a ~50% reduction in energy costs. Return on investment is expected to be realised within the first five years.

Andover BMX Raceway– at this Hampshire-based track, a brand new Midstream floodlighting system has allowed practice and races to continue well into the night. Greater usage and engagement is the result.


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