Cycling and noise pollution

Queen Street 1920s
Queen Street 1920s – A much quieter place

One of the major things that seems to hit people when they move to a real cycle city, is how quiet it is. Even very busy roads are quiet when the majority of the traffic on them is made up of bicycles. Anecdotally, we can all relate to what an unpleasant experience it is to live, work or even just sit down for a while near loud traffic. It is one of the main gripes that people normally have with living in a large city.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when even Auckland was dominated by the clanging of trams and the dinging of bicycle bells with maybe the odd car.

Peak hour traffic on a busy road in Groningen

How much of an impact does noise pollution have and how important is it? This report sets out some effects the World Health Organisation has recognised fom noise pollution. One notable quote is:

There is also general agreement that exposure for more than 8 hours to sound levels in excess of 85 dB is potentially hazardous; to place this in context, 85 dB is roughly equivalent to the noise of heavy truck traffic on a busy road.

In Norway, road traffic has been found to be the cause of almost 80% of reported noise complaints.

An increase in the number of people cycling would have wide range of health benefits for Aucklanders, with a reduction in noise pollution being just one of them. A quiet city is not only nicer but healthier for us all.

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