Sirens, horns, roaring cars: for decades, many New Yorkers have been suffering from street noise. At least against loud cars, the authorities are now taking action. Not everyone likes that.
Jackhammers, honking cars and trucks, rumbling subways, sirens and screams: New York is back to normal after the calm during the pandemic. Efforts to silence that voice have been many over the years. One of the latest experiments: Authorities install traffic cameras that measure noise and identify parked cars and motorcycles that exceed permitted noise levels.
During the one-year trial phase of the system, at least 71 drivers have already been fined for this. The city’s environmental protection agency now wants to expand the use of roadside noise measuring devices. “Cars with illegally modified exhaust, which is very high, have become a growing problem in recent years,” explains City Councilman Erik Bottcher. He welcomes the installation of new radar installations in his district.
At least $800 for “cheap” buses.
New York City already has one of the most comprehensive noise laws in the entire United States. Many noise makers, such as hammers and cars, have legal limits. With the new law in the spring of last year, fines for clippers were increased.
Since the police often have other priorities, violations often go unpunished. However, new devices now register the license plate automatically, similar to speed cameras. A fine of 800 dollars (about 740 francs) is threatened for the first violation. In Paris, authorities had installed such devices on some streets a year ago.
According to studies, noise not only damages hearing, but also affects people’s mood and mental health – not to mention the possible link to heart disease and increased blood pressure. “The noise out there is non-stop — horns, trucks, sirens,” Mayor Eric Adams complained recently. “Noise exposure makes it difficult to sleep and increases the risk of chronic diseases.”
Nearly ten years ago, one of Adams’ predecessors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, declared war on noise. In a 45-page document, regulations were issued that regulated, among other things, how long ice cream trucks were allowed to whine and dogs were allowed to bark.
New Yorkers found the coronavirus relief unsettling
As early as 1905, the “New York Times” had criticized the increasing street noise and asked if a cure was possible. More than a century later, the corona epidemic gave an answer: in the spring of 2020, the roar of cars stopped to a large extent while people stayed at home. Residents could hear the birds singing again – although they were often interrupted by wailing sirens and illegal fireworks at night.
Still, the calm has been felt by many worried because of the fear of the virus, says Juan Pablo Bello of New York University’s Sound of New York City project, who observed the sounds of the city during the lockdown. “The silence during the lockdown was an uncomfortable silence,” he says. “It was terrifyingly calm because it had so many effects.”
Still, the number of complaints about noise increased during the epidemic. Experts attributed this to the fact that the people who were locked in the house had reacted with a lot of emotions. The number of complaints about noisy neighbors doubled in the first year of Corona, and more were directed at organized cars and motorcycles.
Autofan starts a petition against the noise protection law
However, current measures against noisy cars go too far for some. Bronx car enthusiast Phillip Franklin started an online petition against the city’s noise laws. According to the petition, noise is “part of our daily lives” in New York. Silent cars are also a danger to inattentive pedestrians. “Fixing potholes is more important than dealing with noisy cars,” Franklin said in an interview.
According to the scientist Bello, most New Yorkers have agreed to moderation – and prefer it to the silence of the Corona period. “I think people have accepted the fact that it is a chaotic and noisy city,” he says. “We like to have a lively and interesting environment. And we like an environment with lots of work and activity, not this scary, hard place.”