1.10.1 - Urban noise pollution

Version 5


    Car noise in cities comes from multiple sources that accumulate or succeed one another depending on traffic density: cars, scooters and motorcycles, delivery vehicles, police and fire truck sirens, etc. 


    Reducing this noise level first requires a number of isolated measures to address each source of noise: building much quieter cars and delivery vehicles; developing electric vehicles; educating car, motorcycle, and scooter drivers; and using noise-reducing surfaces to absorb some of the traffic noise.


    The fight against noise pollution then requires an overarching plan at the city, metropolitan, or intercity level. In France it is integrated into the urban planning process and Urban Mobility Plans, and organized along multiple lines: reducing the primacy of the car, developing public transportation and bicycle paths, making modifications to improve traffic flow in congested areas, providing advantages and incentives for electric vehicles, restricting delivery times to downtown areas, etc. Beyond or in addition to these plans, public authorities are also using specific tools for targeted noise reduction efforts. Within the European Union, in application of directive 2002/49/EC, an increasing number of cities and metropolitan areas are creating noise maps, which identify the zones and residential areas that are most exposed to environmental noise, as well as those who are responsible for the noise. These maps lead to Environmental Noise Prevention Plans, a series of measures and investments designed to eliminate "noise black spots". 


    Between regular acoustic improvements to cars and transportation infrastructure, and comprehensive policies implemented by public authorities, the fight against noise pollution is finally gaining ground after long being ignored in the field of sustainable development.  


    Peri-urban noise pollution


    In peri-urban areas, transportation routes are generally very dense with much faster traffic than in the city and a higher concentration of trucks: Beltways, roads, railway junctions, airports, etc. This creates a great deal of noise, which can only be reduced by means of significant investments in car research to design quieter cars and tires, and investments in road infrastructures to protect residents from noise pollution (sound-absorbing surfaces, noise screens, complete resurfacing of road sections, etc.).


    Since these investments cost tens of millions euros and involve several levels of government (state, region, department, city), they are increasingly being made through partnerships and joint programs. One example in France is Aliapur, a company specialized in recycling and recovering used tires, that was formed by several main tire manufacturers (Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Kleber, Michelin and Pirelli). Aliapur has signed a number of research agreements with ADEME and large public work companies to develop effective noise screens and road surfaces using rubber granulates made from used tires.