by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition
The pandemic has brought about a changed soundscape; in some cases resulting in less noise impacting on residents and in other cases more noise. In Astoria, Queens, car stunts and car racing have become the new normal, according to Queens Community Board 52 member Lisa Rozner, and so has the overwhelming noise accompanying these stunts and races. To the delight of residents impacted by such noises, Rozner’s complaint led one parking lot’s owner to respond by putting up “no loitering” signs in the lot. The residents then reported “quiet for the first time in months.”
But other Queens neighborhoods are still being subjected to the loud noises of these raceway meetups. The racers have mapped out their paths along Queens streets and the residents are not only subjected to noise but to driving that in one case resulted in a vehicle slamming into a property. One resident said that these drivers are not fearful of being caught because police officers have not been attending to this problem. The NYPD in the community acknowledged awareness of the situation.
In response to community complaints, Councilman Jimmy van Bramer is working with the city’s Department of Transportation about changes to the roadways which could include installing “speed cushions” and encouraging slower speeds.
As I have written in an earlier blog, residents in Manhattan and Westchester have also been complaining about these loud, intrusive car races and that legislation to restrict this behavior has been introduced at the state level. Unfortunately, there has been no significant movement regarding this legislation. I can only urge city and state legislators to pay greater attention to this activity and recognize that noise is hazardous to mental and physical health and well-being.
Dr. Arline Bronzaft is a researcher, writer, and consultant on the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health. She is co-author of “Why Noise Matters,” author of “Listen to the Raindrops” (children’s book illustrated by Steven Parton), and has written extensively about noise in books, encyclopedias, academic journals, and the popular press. In addition, she is a Professor Emerita of the City University of New York and Board member of GrowNYC.