Coronavirus Lockdown Mutes Traffic Noise and new Soundscapes Rise
This may sound like a minor issue but more than 100 million people in Europe are exposed to long-term noise levels that are harmful to their health, according to the last EEA report on noise. Eulalia Peris, the EEA noise expert in charge of this study, explains that long-term exposure to the levels of noise observed in many urban areas “can cause health effects such as annoyance, sleep disturbance and heart problems”. In fact, according to some World Health Organization (WHO) findings, noise is the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air pollution.
This again suggests that a reduction of motorised vehicles in cities must be the policy makers’ top priority to reduce noise pollution. In the same direction, if we want a reduction of traffic flows this will require incentivising active travel (walking, cycling) and public transportation. Switching from using the car to cycling has great potential benefits for both noise and air pollution. Given that 75% of trips in the EU are shorter than 10 km, there is a huge potential for e-bikes to provide a low-noise, low-pollution alternative to cars.
During the coronavirus crisis, the bicycle has risen as one of the safest means of transportation recommended by the authorities. Many cities have already started to improve infrastructure for cyclists and incentivize cycling city policies during these days. This is a significant step that should prompt a reshaping of the urban mobility system once the pandemic is over. This is why ECF has launched ‘Cycling Beyond the Crisis’, a platform to gather all the current facts, initiatives and insights that could lead to reset European mobility and economy once we’ve beaten the COVID19.