Living in a big city anywhere around the world comes with a few compromises, among which is the sound of the never-ending traffic.
In an attempt to tackle this problem and offer residents a better quality of live, France decided to test a new monitoring system: “sound radars”. The detectors have been placed in 7 cities and are equipped with sound sensors, that identify the vehicles making excessive noise, as well as cameras, that read the license plates and take pictures of the problematic motorists.
1. The radars
If the mayor didn’t buy a radar, we would have bought one ourselves.Raphael Bianchi, Paris resident told to The New York Times
The noise monitoring centre Bruitparif developed the sensor, which is, until next year, in the testing phase. After that, authorities plan on issuing fines of €135 for people whose vehicles exceed the noise limit of 85 decibels – four times more than the level of noise made by a passing truck.
French authorities say the noise is indeed a public hazard, while residents condemn motorcycles and modified scooters the most. The authorities are aiming to introduce a noise-pollution limit and to fine those who exceed it, since, officials say, the problem has been getting worse over the past few years.
The “sound radar” project is part of the boarder plan of the city of Paris to reduce noise pollution. Other foreseen measures are lowering the speed limit, planting forests along the Paris ring, but also asking emergency vehicles to turn down their sirens at night.
Dan Lert, the deputy mayor in charge of the plan, mentioned that this also contributes to reducing inequality, since the most affected by the noise are people living in social housing, which, more often than not, are build next to particularly loud areas.
Paris deputy mayor David Belliard admitted the noise problem is indeed “a matter of public health”.
According to WHO, after air pollution, noise pollution is the second biggest environmental factor causing health problems, a 2011 report showing it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders and high blood pressure.
Noise reduces the life expectancy of Parisians by nine months.David Belliard, deputy mayor in Paris told to The New York Times
Furthermore, a study conducted by Bruitparif on the noise levels in Paris discovered that a modified scooter could awaken up to 10,000 Parisians in a single night. They concluded that the lack of sleep not only reduces people’s life expectancy, but also that the decreased productivity caused by sleepless nights and the devaluation of properties on busy streets can cause the country a cost of up to €147 billion a year.
3. The affected residents
Paris residents all agree with the measures and look forward to a fast implementation of the “sound radar”.
I am for the total ban [of motorcycles] from Paris. I just can’t bear to see them anymore.Sébastien Kuperberg, Paris resident told to The New York Times
Raphael Bianchi, who lives in Place de la Bastille, says the noise, caused especially by motorcycles, is “unbearable and “a constant acoustic aggression”, mentioning that his one-year-old son is frequently woken up by it.
The disturbances are so high, they even cause people to move. Sébastien Kuperberg, who leaves above an intersection in east Paris, can no longer bear the noise, saying that “We just can’t have a conversation.” because of it. Even with the windows closed, motorcycles wake him up at least once a nigh, but when they are opened, he says he cannot even listen to music, the radio or watch TV.