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France installs sensors on streets to tackle ‘noise from hell’

When France introduced the speed camera 20 years ago, it greatly reduced the number of car accidents and helped save tens of thousands of lives. Now, the government is aiming for another scourge: the deafening noise that has become a fact of life for residents of French cities.

The new sensors, or “acoustic radars,” were placed in seven cities last week as a test. The sensors can detect and take pictures of vehicles emitting excessive noise, a problem officials say has worsened in recent years. The ultimate hope is to set limits on noise pollution and penalize drivers who exceed it.

“If the mayor had not bought a radar, we would have bought one ourselves,” said Raphael Bianchi, who lives in the Place de la Bastille in Paris. He said his 1-year-old son was repeatedly woken by motorbikes roaring outside their apartment: “It was unbearable – it was a constant sound of aggression.”

The initiative follows the French’s disapproval of street noise, especially new motorbikes and scooters. According to a study by Bruitparif, a state-supported Paris-area noise monitoring center, a modified scooter crossing Paris at night can wake 10,000 people.

The center has developed a sensor that is being tested in Paris. At the end of the trial period, in 2023, the city plans to begin fines 135 euros, about $150, for vehicles that violate noise level regulations.

The sensor project is part of the city of Paris’ broader plan to tackle noise, which health officials say is a real health risk.

David Belliard, deputy mayor in Paris, said: “Noise reduces the life expectancy of Parisians by nine months. learn by the regional health authority and Bruitparif. “It’s a public health issue.”

Other measures include reducing speed limits and planting forests along Paris’ often congested ring road. Dan Lert, a deputy mayor in charge of planning, said the government also wants to require emergency vehicles to turn off their sirens at night.

Mr. Lert said the initiative is also a way to combat inequality, as most housing projects are built next to noisy roads. He said: “People living in social housing are the most exposed to noise.

After air pollution, noise is the second largest environmental factor causing health problems, the World Health Organization said in 2011 reportincreases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and high blood pressure.

Fanny Mietlicki, director of Bruitparif, says the tolls that noisy streets pose can also be measured financially, given the loss of productivity due to disturbed sleep and the devaluation of properties along crowded streets. She estimates the total cost to France at 147 billion euros a year.

Calls to limit noise in cities have intensified after the pandemic closed, Ms. Mietlicki said.

“People find their composure back,” she said. “They can hear the birds singing in the city.”

A group called Ras Le Scoot, or Enough with the Scooter, is campaigning against noisy motorized scooters and motorcycles. The group says it welcomes the new noise sensors, but says vehicles will just take different routes to avoid them, and it won’t stop people from modifying the engines to make them louder.

“Toxic masculinity,” said Franck Olivier-Torro, a spokesman for the association.

Yves Ferraro of the League of Angry Cyclists, a group that advocates for motorcyclists’ rights, says “most cyclists are well-behaved”, but he admits that there are some who likes to “make noise from hell” by cranking the throttle. at the stop light. He said that suppressing and punishing such behavior is not the way to go.

“If there was some dialogue and education, I think things would be much better,” he said.

Sébastien Kuperberg, who lives on the fourth floor of a posh building in east Paris, above a crossroads, is skeptical of that approach. When the traffic light downstairs turned green, he said, “We can’t talk.”

He added that he can’t listen to music, radio or TV with the windows open, and even when they’re closed, the sound of speeding motorbikes wakes him up at least once a night.

Mr Kuperberg, who will be moving out of his apartment in two weeks largely because of the noise, is happy with the new noise sensor but says moving should only be seen as the first step. “I want to completely ban Paris” from motorbikes, he said. “I just can’t bear to see them anymore.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/world/europe/france-street-noise.html France installs sensors on streets to tackle ‘noise from hell’

Fry Electronics Team

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