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Q: Most effective way to make my voice heard ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Most effective way to make my voice heard
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tornado2-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 01 Dec 2005 14:35 PST
Expires: 31 Dec 2005 14:35 PST
Question ID: 600240
There are a several things that seem louder than they should be in NYC
and I am looking for some direction in how best to use my energy to
address this problem.  The top three for me are subway trains, air
brakes in buses (and the loud noise as the bus lowers itself to allow
passengers in), and the loud honking that accompanies fire engine

I have read several articles about the adverse effects of loud noises
on people - from loss of hearing, to increased risks of heart attacks,
but for me it is a quality of life issue.  I have measured the sound
levels of the NYC subway trains at between 80 and 105 decibels.  I
take the subway and also live close to an elevated subway track.  What
is the most effective way to fight for quieter trains, buses, and fire
engines in New York City?

A good answer would include the most effective
1. Actions to take.
2. People to write to.
3. If writing, points that would be the most persuasive, perhaps important studies
4. Organizations that deal with this issue.

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 03 Dec 2005 21:57 PST
  You are not alone. Welcome to the club.

 Excessive noise is found in all cities:

and there are organizations which fight it
"Calling noise a nuisance is like
calling smog an inconvenience.
Noise must be considered a hazard
to the health of people everywhere."
- Dr. William H. Stewart, former Surgeon General of the USA

I am not putting this as an answer, since 
"what is most effective actions to take"  on any public issue
is a million $ question. I would like to know, too.

 In my opinion, increasing public awarness would help.
 There are booklets and  brochures about noise and health ...

and there are laws 

Laws, Ordinances, Regulations and Standards FAQs - Public Adviser ...
the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
has adopted regulations (29 CFR  1910.95) that establish maximum noise levels ...

(1) Pursuant to this chapter, in order to protect the health, ...

but these are inadequate and often ignored ..

   Just as an example: A few years ago, in the San Francisco Bay Area a 
 NEW public transit station was built, DIRECTLY ABOVE A FREEWAY
 which has background noise 85dB and more than 90dB when a train is comming. 
 It seems to be legal because  it falls in the category of 'a short term' exposure.

 It is a long term problem: I would
    a) insert sections into high school curriculum
    b) move to some a remote village and work by Internet

I did b) and it seems to be working :-)

Do you wnat me to continue, as an answer, knowing that I will not find
 an effective way to solve this problem?


Clarification of Question by tornado2-ga on 04 Dec 2005 08:07 PST
Dear Hedgie-ga,

Thank you for looking into this.  I am looking for things to do on a
local level (rather than leave for quieter pastures), such as write
letters, etc.  But in order to write letters, I would really like to
know (1) who I could write to who will have some power to do something
here in New York City.  If you could find contact information for who
to write to for the specific noise isssues I mentioned (subway, bus
airbreaks, and fire engines) in New York City, that would be great. 
And (2) what are some arguments, data, research, laws, etc that might
help strengthen my argument.

As I mentioned, I live very near an overhead train and have sound
level recording equipment.  I have made graphs showing sound levels
over periods of time that show continued high sound levels coming into
the apartment.  I imagine it might take the city some money to do, but
I don't see it as impossible for the city to add some sound barriers
on the sides and bottom of the overhead tracks to dampen the sound.  I
would like to fight for this in my area and would like some specific
tasks that are effective in getting things changed on a grassroots
level (writing letters, or having people sign petitions, or something
like that).

Clarification of Question by tornado2-ga on 04 Dec 2005 08:46 PST

	In your answer when mentioning laws or organizations, I would prefer
if you would to concentrate on those specific to New York City
(preferably) or New York state.  Laws in California like the one you
mentioned at are
interesting, but not immediately applicable to my situation in NYC.
	Also, the link at is not
functioning.  Thank you again for looking into this.

Subject: Re: Most effective way to make my voice heard
Answered By: hedgie-ga on 04 Dec 2005 22:12 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
           I take it that you want me to continue with the search, 
concentrating on what you can do in NYC.

There are some things on the personal level such as
Aiwa HP-CN5 Noise Canceling Headphone
]  (These long [ URLs ]need to be pasted into a browser, without blanks, OK?)
and soundproofing your apartment, double panes etc

Once you have a quiet base at home, you can look around and connect
with like minded people and groups:

 Aaron Friedman writes about noise in NYC

Perhaps he can make use of your records. 

Sometimes writing brings results and he was effective in this case:

Here  are  few like-minded organizations:

Transportation Alternatives is a 5500-member NYC-area non-profit
citizens group working for better bicycling,

 Community Board Five.
We also represent residential areas with diverse needs. Our district
is the center of New York?s tourism industry. Times Square, the Empire
State Building and three of the regions transportation hubs; Grand
Central Station, Penn Station, and the Port Authority Terminal, all
fall within or lie on the border of Community Board Five...
Noise is a frequent complaint that the Board receives from its
constituents.  The City needs a...

NoiseOFF - The Citizens Coalition Against Noise Pollution 
Sound & Noise Generation, Propagation & Reduction ...
survey about noise problem in NYC and the nation. ...

While the public is generally unaware of the the noise pollution issue
, public officials, city councils and EPA and health depts. are
familiar with the issues, with the ordinances- and also the problems.
 So, new measurements are unlikely to produce action/results,
unless legal limits are exceeded. 

The task is to find something ambitious but do-able.
Organize or join a group of like-minded people to work together,
and convince other people that it is worth the effort and cost. 

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by
transportation-related noise. It
affects the ability of people to carry on conversations, to
concentrate at work and school,
and to sleep. Urban residents face the most substantial impacts, but
as airports are
expanded and new ones are built, as ground-based infrastructure is
expanded, and with the
likely advent of high-speed rail, it is anticipated that impacts will
expand well beyond the
immediate vicinity of major cities to suburban and rural communities.
Over the past three to four decades, much has been accomplished with regard to
improving the noise climate in the United States, and there are many
new technologies
offering the possibility of further improvements in the future.

Sound bariers are one  solution to noise,
but it is often easier to avoid the creation of sound, than to battle
to suppress it, once it is made.

So, could we adopt something which the  other cities have done with 
transportation noise?

The problem is pervasive, and so we can learn from others' experiences

What about pushing through in NYC, as an experiment,
 just one line of a Rubber-tired metro ?

It works elsewhere:
Rubber tires make the Metro exceptionally quiet, and also help the
trains cars go uphill more easily and with less energy consumption
than metal-wheeled metros. It is popularly said that the slopes
required to allow the Yellow Line to pass underneath the Saint
Lawrence River are too steep for steel-wheeled trains, although
steel-wheeled metros negotiate similar slopes in New York City and

Other new technologies can help:

Once transport noise has been created, sound barriers are a costly but
effective solution

Industry can provide the expertise and cost estimates

The task then is to convince the city to spend the money.
Here is how one group (in Florida) started their fight:

First, they need to raise $2,000 for an expert to gather solid proof
that a sound wall or some other kind of barrier is necessary to reduce
the higher noise levels ... Northoftampa/Homeowners_raise_rack.shtml

To mobilize the community one can go to local schools, offer lectures,
suggest a few science projects

 It will take time- building the capacity to influence public policy

If the approved levels are exceeded, then threat of legal action may help.
What are the approved limits?

...24-234 Rapid transit railroad. 
(a) On or before September first nineteen hundred seventy-three, the
commissioner shall define and submit to the city council for enactment
into this code allowable sound levels and acoustical performance
standards for the design and operation of new and existing rapid
transit railroads, including but not limited to allowable sound levels
and acoustical performance standards for rolling stock, track and
track beds, passenger stations, tunnels, elevated structures, yards,
depots and garages.

Allowable sound levels and acoustical performance standards shall be
based on the latest economically feasible and available technology for
noise abatement in rapid transit railroads and on the latest
scientific knowledge useful for indicating the kind and extent of all
effects on public health, welfare, safety and comfort which can be
expected from noises or combinations of noises generated by rapid
transit railroads...

Good grief!

 But things may change -  Here is one powerful ally:

The Politics of Peace and Quiet
Does Bloomberg?s quality-of-life crusade make him more like Giuliani?or less?  

Michael Bloomberg?s much-ballyhooed pitch to revise the city?s noise
code for the first time in 32 years gives him a quality-of-life
crusade in the tradition of Rudy Giuliani. But while the noise plan
may turn out to be a winner, staking his political life on comparisons
to Giuliani is a losing proposition...

How and where to Complain (see right bar)

and you can always start a petition

Be prepared: not everyone will agree with your quest:

"..that's what happened. Various financial swells poured into the
neighborhood and refurbished hundred-year-old buildings, instead of
buying in a perfectly orderly quiet restrained neighborhood like the
Upper East Side. And then they started complaining about the noise!

but, in the long run, sensibility may prevail:

Urban Soundscapes: What Should a Public Space Sound Like?
noise ordinances and minimizing impacts. of traffic noise. ...
 and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway;
 and an extension of New York City?s East River ...

 Transporting New York City to a Sustainable Future:
(The rubber tire metro seems to be missing in this study.
 It may be possible to convince this expert group to add a chapter on
feasibility of such an experiment.
 To have this option included in the city plane, may well be
'the most effective way' to achieve desired change) 

You may be the beginning of a wave of change.
Try connecting with some of these folks, and
good luck!


Clarification of Answer by hedgie-ga on 13 Dec 2005 00:42 PST
correcting typo:
option included in the city plane

should be:
option included in the city plan

If you have no other RFCs, rating is always appreciated.

tornado2-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thank you for your answer.  This gives me some good places to start.

Subject: Re: Most effective way to make my voice heard
From: nelson-ga on 01 Dec 2005 20:50 PST
Move to Oklahoma if you find the City.  Part of the energy and
vitality of the City is the noise.
Subject: Re: Most effective way to make my voice heard
From: pinkfreud-ga on 01 Dec 2005 21:01 PST
Hey, Nelson, I live in Oklahoma. We have noise, too. Of course, it got
better after Garth Brooks moved to Nashville. ;-)

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