September 23, 2019

Paris, Vehicular Noise & Acoustical Radar

Besides the sights of Paris, the sounds can be fairly intense, especially if you are walking close to a motorway. As this article on states Paris is trialling “noise radar” that focuses in on powerful muscle cars with loud muffler noise. Using a quartet of microphones appended to street poles, the system triangulates on noise and uplinks with a CCTV camera to pinpoint the offending vehicle.

It’s no surprise that these devices have been located near bars in Paris’ entertainment districts as well as around major buildings. With nearly sixty of the noise radar systems installed, there is a two year trial to figure out if this technology works, and also to ascertain what noise level will result in fines.

But  “people with souped-up rides might not want to get too comfortable. A draft law due for a vote this fall will let local officials experiment with noise radar fines, and  (the Paris suburb of ) Villeneuve-le-Roi intends to take advantage of it if and when the law takes effect.

Of course if you are driving an electric vehicle you will make little noise. The YouTube video below “Small Sidewalk” chats with young people in Paris on the impacts of city noise in their lives. In terms of streets the youth identify vehicular noise as a major component of annoying acoustical experiences.

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  1. We are a long way from regulating traffic noise in the U.S. Living by a highway allows me the dubious pleasure of knowing the volumes and pitches of various scooters, motorcycles, sports cars, light trucks, (GM trucks are by far the noisiest) and large commercial trucks through our walls and windows. Police have been quoted as “Noise doesn’t kill” to explain their lack of enforcement of mufflers, but actually it does, simply more slowly and insidiously than collisions. There are different sources of traffic noise besides engine noise-which can use mufflers to either reduce or increase volume. There is also tire and wind noise, which depends on vehicle shape, speed and road surfaces, as well as amplified music or messages.

  2. There’s a line from the 70’s group, the Last Poets:
    ‘A siren sounds through the streets of Harlem, putting your mind into a state of paralysis.’

    In the old days, emergency responders used the primitive means of sounding a bell, or horn to clear their way.
    How things have not changed.

    With transponders and lights, you’d think this assault would stop. We live not far from an old folks home. We suffer a lot of siren noise. Not everything is an emergency necessitating simulated air raid drills. Old folks have issues.

    There’s also a fire station not far away. Omg. Sirens and horns.
    Meanwhile, four blocks from the station, a house burned down killing an infant. For the money spent on fire services, it would be cheaper and decidedly more peaceful to fit homes with sprinkler systems.
    The salary, pension, benefits of just one fireman, not to mention the equipment, would retrofit how many homes? In Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, firemen were no longer needed to put out fires.

    1. We’ve had the technology to virtually eliminate sirens for twenty years. They need only be loud enough to warn pedestrians and cyclists since cars could have been fitted with a receiver that is not just an alarm but would have information on which way the emergency vehicle is travelling. At scale this would be cheap to install in every car.

      After returning from a trip to Europe where it seemed to me there were a lot fewer sirens, even in similar sized cities, I decided to keep track for week in Vancouver. I counted 25 to 30 sirens per day. That’s about 20 to 25 sirens a day more than required to justify making that technology mandatory.

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