An interesting exchange took place last week at our ‘A Sound Investment’ Joint Declaration launch in the European Parliament. A representative of Porsche, the sports car maker and a noise expert from EUROCITIES, a network of major European cities debated the best ways of making our urban areas quieter. Cities are immensely noisy; largely as a result of the traffic. Porsche’s noise expert has a number of “helpful city solutions”. He wants our cities redesigned and to install huge concrete barriers to keep people and cars apart.
These enlightened ideas were proposed by Dr Hans-Martin Gerhard, Manager Vehicle NVH - Traffic Noise at Porsche, who questioned EUROCITIES position that the best way to make cities quieter was to reduce vehicle noise. That would be the same Dr. Gerhard who previously explained that “the caliber of a car is revealed by the exhaust note and the burst of noise from the car's drivetrain during acceleration.” And it’s not the first time Dr. Gerhard has attacked vehicle noise regulations.
At a time cities are struggling to find the cash to fill the holes in the roads one wonders quite where the cash to pay for redesigning roads is supposed to come from. Porsche don’t seem to care so long as it doesn’t cost them any money to make their cars quieter. After all, a company that made a profit of $1.5 billion and increased its sales by over 25% in the first 6 months of 2011 needs to watch the pennies. And don’t ask Porsche drivers, who usually spend around 100,000 EUR on their noisy pleasure to pay for slightly quieter cars!
Quiet road surfaces, speed reduction and smoothing traffic flow are great for reducing noise at hotspots. But city-wide, the only solution is to make vehicles quieter. This approach is also over one-hundred times cheaper per person protected than the alternatives. Leading experts on noise agree and have backed calls for tighter vehicle noise standards.
Traffic noise isn’t just a minor irritation but harms the health of one in three EU-citizens, some 210 million people. The stress it contributes to raises blood pressure and anxiety leading to serious health consequence including heart attacks and strokes. Traffic noise also reduces work related performance and hinders learning in children. The WHO predicts that noise pollution will surpass air pollution as the number one most widespread environmental problem in Europe in the coming years.
Noise is also an issue that disproportionally impacts on the poor. Not that Porsche owners need to worry, they can afford to buy themselves a place in the country, leaving poor city dwellers to live next to the misery of a busy road.
If you’re fed up with traffic noise sign our joint declaration – quieter vehicles are a sound investment.
For more information on our noise campaign click here.