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In the June 20 edition of the Gothamist.com, David Colon wrote an article entitled “Man Arrested for Crime of Having Way Too Awesome Van (That Played Crazy Loud Music”). Colon stated that “freedom” means the right to “own a bitchin’ van and blast some kickin’ tunes from it. OR SO WE THOUGHT, as the arrest of a man in Queens merely for the crime of being a public nuisance with his van full of 50 speakers shows there are apparently limits to freedom in Obama’s America.”
http://gothamist.com/2016/06/20/damn_van_man_nabbed.php

Colon’s adolescent rant shows a complete misunderstanding of the issues. First, “freedom” is not absolute. One person’s “freedom” ends with another person’s rights. One person’s “right” to excessive noise ends at other people’s ears. No one wants to be subjected to extreme noise from someone else’s “bitchin’ van.” Excessive noise is a trespass upon other people’s property.

Second, there are many types of public nuisance violations which can result in imprisonment, including public drunkenness, public urination, and prostitution. Public nuisance laws are intended to protect public welfare and the right of property owners to peacefully enjoy their property.

Third, citizens care about noise pollution. More than 85 percent of the calls to New York City’s quality of life hotline concern noise. Also, a Census Bureau report found that noise is Americans’ #1 complaint about their neighborhood and the #1 reason they wish to move.

Fourth, excessive noise is physically harmful. Excessive noise is associated with headaches, sleep deprivation, hearing loss, decreased cognitive abilities, heart disease, and aggravated behavior.

Fifth, noise enforcement has nothing to do with “Obama.” For decades, every state and virtually every municipality has had a noise ordinance. The Obama administration has done nothing to assist states and localities with noise ordinances or noise enforcement. New York City’s noise policies are entirely the domain of New York City.

Mr. Colon’s statements are thoroughly juvenile. The NYPD was completely justified in arresting the man in Queens for flagrantly violating New York City’s noise laws. Citizens have the right to not be subjected to extreme noise from car stereos.

The following editorial comes courtesy of “Silence the Horns,” a non-profit group dedicated to eliminating car honking tied to keyless entry systems.
www.silencethrhorns.org

Missed opportunities

Silence the Horns Editorial, Earth Day 2016

2016 Chevy Volt

When we started looking into horn-based lock alert noise, a former car alarm installer said, “If they wanted to, automakers could turn this around in a year.”

As we soon learned, implementation of changes happens slowly if at all. Some automakers eliminated horn-based lock alerts over the course of a few years with or without a redesign. With some cars, like the Nissan Rogue, the car itself was created with the quieter electronic tone.

It was disappointing to learn that no GM cars had transitioned away from horn use with lock feedback. A combination of relentless optimism along with magical thinking fueled by this post had us half expecting to find out that a Cadillac model would be the first (of many!) to do so, but it was not to be. Still, there is some good news about a GM car.

The 2016 Volt is blessedly missing two major horn-based alerts that owners and reviewers alike have complained about for years: honking that was used as feedback during the battery charging experience and honking that was used with the pedestrian alert. They. Are. GONE.

Unfortunately, the Volt continues to use a horn honk as lock feedback, even as other automakers continue to transition away from horn-based lock feedback. And the 2017 Bolt, which could have gotten its start in life with quieter feedback or silence, uses horn honking for lock alert. And now Buick is advertising its RemoteLink App as if honking a horn from miles away adds value – so much for the environment and sustainability!

Honk to confirm that doors are locked?
A soul at odds with a silly lock alert noise

Another disappointment was that no FCA cars have transitioned away from horn use with lock feedback.

Just as GM Authority describes a quieter sound for Cadillac as more fitting, a quieter sound or no sound (as with Land Rover) seems fitting with Jeep. With its spirit of rebellion and association with rugged terrain and natural settings, it is especially incongruous to hear a horn honk when this vehicle is standing still.

Volt engineers based many of the changes on feedback from Volt owners, including requests for more quiet and less noise. It is understandable that lock feedback would be overlooked, since the horn sound on the second press of the key fob is technically optional. By comparison, owners were forced to create horn noise with the pedestrian alert and with electric charge feedback honking. Why would an owner complain about an optional feature?

It isn’t enough to use focus groups to capture data about features that need to change – especially when those features create noise. If common sense (“horn sounds wake people up and confuse passing drivers”) fails to surface and the law (non-emergency horn honking is illegal in many states and municipalities) doesn’t impress, engineers should consider the feedback of everyone who shares space with cars. A more robust sample for a focus group could be recruited by knocking on the bedroom windows that overlook residential parking lots. Better still – use common sense.

More than ever before, soundscapes are being considered in every stage of architectural planning, and consideration of soundscapes is being integrated within the study of built environments. As the body of work linking noise exposure to health effects grows, scholarship on benefits of quiet are gaining ground. Eventually engineers and other creators will incorporate soundscape and acoustical considerations into planning as never before. To ignore soundscape science is to risk being left behind.

When a product is engineered, it should be created to emit the least amount of noise possible. When a car shares space with other cars, or exists in proximity to homes, this must be considered. In terms of health, sleep is our most precious asset. Sufficient quiet to support good sleep should not be an amenity. It should be available to all, rich and poor alike. Creating a product with the capacity to hinder good sleep and to diminish quiet enjoyment of one’s home is a decision. You will allow this to happen, or you will stop it from happening. An opportunity was there for a moment, a choice, and then it was lost.

Further Reading

Chevy Volt wins 2016 Green Car of the Year
2016 Chevy Volt First Drive
Revolution Two: The 2016 Chevy Volt Proves There Are Second Acts in Automotive Lives
2016 Volt arrives with 50-mile EV range, 41 mpg
Volt early history
Volt early history

Previous Editorials

How will we recognize an emergency when we finally need to?
How I spent my summer vacation
The restorative power of – gas stations and parking lots?
Because everything really does matter
A voice for those who will not or cannot speak
Honking and remote locks – pointless and preventable

Home Mission Editorial Supporters Write!

Dear Mr. Wayson,

I am writing, once again, about music levels at the Meadowmont pool.

Previously, as you know, lifeguards were allowed to reduce the music level at the pool, upon request. I am told that the new policy is that there is a uniform policy throughout the building, controlled by the front desk.

On Sunday, I was informed of this new policy. I asked the lifeguard to request that the front desk turn down the music level. She refused.

I go to the pool and the whirlpool to relax. I do not go there to hear loud music imposed upon me. Having loud music in the pool area makes the experience unpleasant.

Meadowmont and Cary are “wellness” facilities. Having loud and unnecessary noise imposed upon me is not good for my health–or anyone’s health. I find it amazing that the Meadowmont leadership seems oblivious to the negative health effects of loud music. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/20/noise-pollution.aspx

Have you ever conducted a survey of your membership? As you know, most members at the Meadowmont facility are not teenagers, by any means. If you did a survey, I predict that most people who swim regularly would vote for no music in the pool area.

Why do you insist on playing loud music in the pool area?

Ted Rueter

I am a member of the Meadowmont health and wellness facility in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There is a chronic problem of excessive noise in the swimming pool area. Here is an exchange with the Meadowmont aquatics director.

Dear Matt,

I am a member of Meadowmont health and wellness facility. I am writing about the loud music frequently played in the swimming pool area. It is ridiculous.

On Sunday at 6:25 pm, I went to the pool. The music was blasting. You could hear it from down the hall, with the doors closed.

The swimming pool is not the lifeguard’s private domain. It is not their living room or their car. Lifeguards do not have the right to inflict their preference for blasting music on other people. Blasting music is not the proper solution for lifeguards being bored.

The lifeguard was a 20ish white male. He identified himself as “Andrew.” (The sign on the wall, though, said the lifeguard was “Bobby.”)

The lifeguard did turn off the music after I asked him to turn it down.

People go swimming to relax–not to be blasted by music from a 20 year old. Please instruct all of your lifeguards to keep the music down–way down. Turning it off completely is an even better idea.

Meadowmont is supposed to be a health facility. Being exposed to loud music is very unhealthy.

Ted Rueter

This is the response I received:

Hi, Mr. Rueter,

Thanks for bringing the loud music in the aquatic area to our attention. I will address this with the guard staff. The intention is to provide “background” music for our members/guests. This clearly is not what you experienced Sunday evening. I will take care of it.

Thanks,
Matt

Matt Stout
UNC Wellness Centers
350 Stonecroft Lane
Cary, North Carolina 27519
919-957-5919

Dear Matt,

Thanks for your response. I’m sure that this lifeguard thought he was providing “background” music. The problem is that a 20 year old male’s perception of what is loud is very different from the typical Meadowmont member’s perception.

A much easier solution would be to not have music in the swimming pool area at all. Then there would be no debate as to what is “too loud.”

If you polled your members, I would bet that “no music” would be the strong preference. Why are you imposing “background music” on swimmers when you have no evidence that it is desired?

The desire for loud music is coming from the staff, not the members.

Ted Rueter

Hi Ted,

Yes you are right about 20 year olds and their music tastes!
We provide background music in all areas of the facility.
I will make sure it stays in a reasonable range.

Thanks,

Matt

Matt Stout
Aquatics Director
UNC Health Care
The Wellness Center at Meadowmont
100 Sprunt Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27517
919-843-2156

Dear Matt,

Has the staff at Meadowmont ever asked patrons if we would like so-called “background music”? I have been a member for almost three years; no one has ever asked my opinion.

What is the definition of “reasonable”? I’m sure all of your 20 year-old lifeguards think their music levels are “reasonable”?

If music is blasting in the swimming pool, how could lifeguards even hear if someone needed help?

I have to ask lifeguards to turn it down practically every time I swim at Meadowmont.

Maybe I’m the only person who complains. But that doesn’t mean that many other people don’t agree with me. Very few people who are bothered by excessive noise ever speak up. People want quiet, not “background music.” Please stop it.

Most members at Meadowmont are much closer to my age (58) than to the age of the your lifeguards. Whatever happened to listening to your customers? Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”?

Ted

Here is a letter from the Silent Spring Institute concerning the health effects of gasoline-powered leaf blowers.

July 10, 2014

To whom it may concern,

As scientists at Silent Spring Institute, we are writing to share our concerns about the health effects of gasoline-powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscaping equipment. Our recently published review of likely breast carcinogens (available at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307455/) identified exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and many polyaromatic hydrocarbons as particularly high concerns based on their strength as genotoxic carcinogens and the potential for high exposure both from gasoline fumes and from the exhaust of gasoline powered devices such as leaf blowers. The Institute of Medicine also recently identified benzene and butadiene as two of the environmental chemicals most likely to increase breast cancer risk (their report is available at http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Breast-Cancer-and-the-Environment-A-Life-Course-Approach.aspx).

In addition to possible links with breast cancer, these chemicals and others in gasoline fumes and exhaust have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems as well as cancer at multiple sites.

Sincerely,

Julia Green Brody

Executive Director, Silent Spring Institute

Ruthann Rudel

Research Director, Silent Spring Institute

Janet Ackerman

Staff Scientist, Silent Spring Institute

Noise Free America endorses the request of Huntington, New York CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation) that Home Depot stop selling gas-powered leaf blowers, as it violates the company’s stated concern for environmental preservation.
The Huntington CALM statement is as follows:
Huntington CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation), would like to request that Home Depot stop selling gasoline leaf blowers.  They are dangerous to the environment and to the American people.

This change in policy would align with your company’s stated environmental policy: 

“Environmental Principles:
At the Home Depot, we realize how vitally important it is to conserve our environment. The following principles help to guide us in our actions and lead us down a path of sustainability.

We are committed to minimizing the environmental health and safety risk for our associates and our customers.
We will encourage our customers to become environmentally conscious shoppers.”

Gas-powered leaf blowers spew up to 30 percent of their gasoline directly into the environment.  In summer months and in warm climates, their fumes combine with sunlight to create ground level ozone, a cancer causing agent.  Ground-level ozone is concentrated around homes and work places, making it more dangerous than other forms of air pollution.  Particulates from gas-powered leaf blowers can take up to several days to settle, so the exposure time is lengthy.

Research has recently demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer from the benzene and 1,3-butadiene emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers. They also produce other residues that are considered  endocrine disruptors.  These can be linked to asthma, cancer and other illnesses.

Gas-powered leaf blowers blow at speeds of 200 mph, causing loss of precious topsoil and desiccation of leaves and plantings.  Gas-powered leaf blowers operating at this velocity blow up dirt, dust, rodent feces, heavy metals, mold, fungus, and weed seeds.  They are not a friend to the environment. 

The noise level of gas-powered leaf blowers is above the World Health Organization and OSHA’s recommended levels.  Their decibel level causes hearing loss and tinnitus; the noise increases blood pressure and can cause arrhythmias.

Since Home Depot carries lithium-ion battery-powered and electric blowers, you are already offering customers a choice that is environmentally friendlier.

For all these reasons and several more, we have received the endorsement of the following groups:

Mt. Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit
American Academy of Pediatrics, Long Island Chapter
Grassroots Environmental Education
Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition
Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
The LI Sierra Club
The American Lung Association, NE Chapter
The Asthma Coalition of Long Island
Huntington Conservation Board
Healthy Planet Radio Show

CVS drug stores took a corporate stance not to sell cigarettes.  This was a bold and powerful statement that has raised public awareness about the ills of cigarette smoking. CVS is now educating its customers on how to stop smoking.  Home Depot could help do the same with regard to gas-powered leaf blowers. We ask you to partner with us to make our neighborhoods cleaner and healthier. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Bonnie Sager
Dr. Lucy Weinstein
Chair, Environmental Health Committee
American Academy of Pediatrics, LI Chapter
For Huntington CALM

                                                        PO Box 2754

                                                        Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27515

                                                        October 18, 2014

 

Mr. Jim Guest

President and CEO

Consumer Reports

101 Truman Avenue

Yonkers, New York 10703

 

Dear Mr. Guest,

I am writing to ask Consumer Reports to challenge automakers for installing keyless entry systems tied to car honking.  Consumer Reports is uniquely qualified to address this important noise pollution issue.

The motor vehicle code in all 50 states restricts the use of car horns to averting an emergency.  Clearly, verifying that a car is locked is not an “emergency.”  Therefore, automobile manufacturers are blatantly violating the law in all 50 states.

Car honking tied to keyless entry systems is illogical.  It’s the same as a burglar alarm blasting at full volume every time someone locks their house. It simply makes no sense.

This unnecessary and aggravating noise is rampant.  Car honking tied to lock confirmation is heard constantly in parking lots, residential neighborhoods, and motels. Indeed, some individuals even seem proud of the very loud noise they are making.

This unnecessary noise is very harmful.  It startles pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists.  It causes interpersonal conflicts.  It causes headaches, which can last the rest of the day.

Noise Free America is asking Consumer Reports to use its influence to persuade auto manufacturers to abandon the installation of keyless entry systems tied to car horns.  A number of auto manufacturers have already made this change.

Eliminating car honking tied to keyless entry systems would improve public safety and reduce unnecessary noise. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Ted Rueter, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Noise Free America

 


On June 20 to June 22, 2014, the Buncombe county chapter of Concerned Bikers of America held a motorcycle rally in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The event organizers promised that “there may be noise all night long.”

Noise Free America (www.noisefree.org) issued its June “Noisy Dozen” award on this event, noting that it would be full of illegally-loud motorcycles. The Asheville Citizen-Times did a story on the Noisy Dozen award.

www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/06/19/anti-noise-group-critical-hot-springs-biker-rally/10939425/

James Buckner, president of the Buncombe county chapter of Concerned Bikers of America, states that the Hot Springs motorcycle rally would “stay within town rules.” Incredibly, Buckner completely ignores state and federal noise regulations.

North Carolina state law requires all motor vehicles operating in the state to be equipped and operated with effective mufflers. NC 20-128 states that “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless such motor vehicle is equipped with a muffler, or other exhaust system of the type installed at the time of manufacture, in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, annoying smoke, and smoke screens.”

The federal Noise Control Act of 1972 also prohibits removing or tampering with motorcycle exhaust systems for the purpose of making noise. The law establishes noise emission limits for all motorcycles made since 1983; most illegally-modified motorcycles greatly exceed that limit.

Buckner states that his group’s purpose is to fight “unfair” legislation. In reality, their purpose is to protect motorcyclists’ “right” to thunder down the road, inflicting sleep deprivation, hearing loss, heart disease, and chronic fatigue on peace-loving Americans–in violation of state and federal law.

     On October 27, Washington Post columnist George F. Will complained about mindless noise at airports: “You step onto an airport’s moving walkway, a flat metal conveyor belt that conveys travelers down an airport concourse, sparing them the indignity of burning a few calories by walking a bit.  And soon a recorded voice says:  ‘The moving sidewalk is coming to an end. Please look down.’  Well, yes.”

   Incessant announcements at airports also advise travelers that “designated smoking areas are located outside, away from doors” and that “a train is arriving.”

   Every ten minutes, every American airport plays a recorded announcement which blares, “May I have your attention, please,” and then proceeds to offer the incredibly obvious advice to not accept any item from an “unknown person.”

   Travelers must always deal with the cacophony from beeping carts carrying luggage and passengers (virtually running people over), as well as the constant audio presence of CNN.

   The audio assault continues once on the airplane, when a flight attendant makes the inane announcement that “this is a no-smoking flight” (despite the fact that this has been federal policy for more than a decade).  Throughout most flights, the pilot insists on providing a running travelogue–the desire for sleep be damned.

   Incessant announcements at airports and on airplanes makes air travel virtually unbearable.  All these announcements demonstrate, once again, the banality of noise.

   Will concludes: “More and more public spaces are like airports, places where we are assaulted by instructions, advice, warning, and unwanted information.  Almost none of this noise is necessary for people mature enough to be allowed to walk around the block, let along fly around the country.  This is the way the world will end, not with a bang but with an environmental blitzkrieg of blather.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/inundated-by-a-river-of-words/2011/10/25/gIQANhkEKM_story.html