Author Archive: GMB

Hear, hear!

Why aren’t more motorcycle riders cited for traffic noise?

Adam Lynn, traffic reporter for The Olympian, examines a common lament regarding motorcycle noise.  Namely, Washington State has regulations governing motorcycle exhaust noise but motorcyclists ride with impunity as the regulations appear to be rarely enforced.  Lynn’s research revealed that there were two relevant statutes governing exhaust and muffler noise, so he then turned to the Washington State Patrol to ask them about enforcement.

While the spokesperson for the Washington State Patrol was able to tell Lynn the number of people stopped for excessive vehicle noise (3,214), which presumably included motorcycles, he could not say how many citations were handed out.  “In many instances,” said the spokesperson, “troopers simply inform drivers that their vehicles are illegally modified and need to be brought into compliance with the law,” adding that many owners plead ignorance and claim that they thought the modified exhaust was legal because it was installed by a muffler or motorcycle shop.

Apparently the Washington State troopers are unaware of the legal principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  And we must add that the claimed ignorance is less believable when you realize that the offending exhaust pipes are aftermarket.  That is, new motorcycles are sold with less offensive exhaust pipes that the owner must replace with modified exhausts in order to make the motorcycle as loud as possible so as to assault as many ears as possible.

Perhaps the Patrol should hand out citations instead of warnings the first time.  Nothing like a punishing fine to insure that there won’t be a second time.

The best thing to happen to mass transportation:

The Cult of the Quiet Car.  For those of us who have suffered silently (well, except for the passive aggressive throat-clearing) as unthinking monsters shout into their phones during an hour plus train ride, the advent of the quiet car heralded a return to civility, life before mobile phones.  All hail the quiet car!

Link via @jeaninebotta.

Noise keeps you up at night?

The Audiophiliac has the cure.  And his short answer is this: get some disposable earplugs.   Not exactly earth shattering.  Although The Audiophiliac’s review of options may be useful, it is, after all, a short answer for a short-term remedy.  Perhaps the author should consider the longer-term remedy and contact his city councilperson demanding real noise regulation in New York City.  Just a thought.

Part sound survey, part sound art, and completely compelling:

The Next Station.  A collaborative work by Cities and Memories and London Sound Survey, the Next Station is a sound map of the London Underground and, “by remixing and reimagining every sound it creates[,] an alternative sound world based on the experience and memory of the iconic Tube.”

 

 

Dear Wall Street, about your commute:

Anti-Noise Activists Want East Hampton Town Airport Shut Down.

In fairness, Wall Street barons have to commute to their Hampton estates by helicopter because the traffic on the Long Island Express Way is horrible (yes, tongue was planted firmly in cheek).  Interestingly this issue is pitting the 1% against the 1%, though, admittedly, the helicopter crowd may more accurately be described as the .001%.  Still, it’s easy to take sides here, because noise is noise is noise is noise.   The airport will never be shutdown, but good luck to the activists.  May they at least get some relief.

A fascinating piece about the world’s disappearing sounds:

The Scramble To Preserve The World’s Rarest Sounds.

writing for audiblerange.com, examines the worldwide efforts to preserve the world’s disappearing languages, historic recordings (particularly radio), nature sounds, and the sounds of vanishing quiet places.  Snippets of sound are dotted throughout this article.  It’s well worth the read and listen. 

 

One simple accommodation to help those with hearing disabilities:

Dr. Daniel Fink, a leading noise activist, responds to New York Times’s article, “Becoming Disabled,” by offering a simple, effective, and no-cost accommodation to assist those with hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis: turn down the volume of the amplified sound!  As Dr. Fink points out, “[d]isability accommodations benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.”  Turning down the volume in places of public accommodation will make them more accessible to those with hearing disabilities, provide a quieter environment for everyone present, and could, in fact, protect those not afflicted from joining the ranks of people with hearing injury.

Dr. Fink encourages anyone with a hearing disability whose request for accommodation was ignored to file a complaint with the local agency charged with protecting the rights of the disabled.  In New York City residents can file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights.

 

 

Was there no alternative?

Former banker makes money keeping partyers quiet, spreads the appeal of “quiet clubbing” across the country.

No doubt you are wondering what goes on at a quiet clubbing event.  Good question.  According to Crain’s, at a quiet clubbing event partygoers wear “wireless headphones that connect to the music of one of several live DJs,  Each headset has a color LED light that indicates which music the wearer is listening to. The atmosphere is clublike, with strobe lights and booze, but the noise level is lower.”

While we applaud the desire to lower noise levels, we can’t get the image out of our heads of a roomful of people dancing and singing along to different playlists in an otherwise quiet room.  And what about those who think that quiet clubbing is antisocial?  The former banker/current club diva disagrees, stating that quiet clubbing is “the opposite of antisocial because unlike a traditional club, people can take off their headphones and actually have a normal conversation without screaming at the person standing next to them.”  Finally, a solution to the problem of trying to have a conversation in a club!

That said, taken to its logical conclusion, and thanks to virtual reality, soon anyone can throw a quiet clubbing party in his or her own apartment.  Just grab a pair of VR googles, put on your 3D headphones, and dance with yourself and your virtual friends.

Thanks to Charles Shamoon for the link.

Remember when you could enjoy a meal with friends without screaming through your meal?

Those days could be coming back: Why quiet restaurants are having a moment.

Debora Robertson, writing for The Telegraph, reports about the efforts by Svante Borjesson, director of the hearing charity Oir es Clave (“Hearing is Key”), who has launched an initiative called “Eating Without Noise.”  Borjesson signed up 22 restaurants to join the initiative, though most seem on the higher end.  Which is a shame, because a comfortable restaurant should be available for everyonthe rich. That said, when you consider the effect noise has on the dining experience, it’s foolhardy for any restaurateur to ignore the acoustics of their restaurants.  As Robertson notes:

Restaurateurs who pay more attention to the art on their walls than acoustics might want to rethink. The quiet restaurant movement is backed up science. A recent Cornell University study found that decibels definitely have an impact on deliciousness.

Yep, noise affects flavor.  And it’s important is to remember that a visit to a restaurant, especially with family or friends, is about much more than the food.  Robertson writes:

Most of us go to restaurants not just for the food, but also to enjoy the company of our friends. If we can’t hear what they’re saying, we might as well stay at home with Netflix and a bowl of pasta. But there are few things more enjoyable than sitting in a beautiful restaurant, eating something wonderful, catching up on the latest scandals and (possibly) watching other diners creating scandals of their own. Is it too much to ask for the gentle, sound-absorbing comfort of a well-insulated floor, the odd soft banquette, perhaps – whisper it – a tiny swathe of curtain?

Short answer: No, it’s not too much to ask.

And this is the perfect opportunity to introduce our sister site, Quiet City Maps, where we review restaurants, coffee shops, bars, parks, and privately owned public spaces based on how loud they are (or, one hopes, aren’t).  The focus at Quiet City Maps is comfort, i.e., whether the space allows for easy conversation.  We have started in Manhattan and hope to launch an app before very long.  And then?  Onward to Brooklyn, Queens, and points beyond!

Link via @QuietMark.

Now this is what a robust enviornmental protection statute looks like:

Playing loud music can set you back by Rs 1 lakh* and put you behind bars for 5 years.  Or you could just lower the music after you’ve been warned.

*100,000 rupees, which = $1,488.21 on August 22nd.