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Europe fights against traffic noise

It is not only air pollution that affects citizens in urban areas. Noise caused by traffic is also harmful to health. Many countries want to put an end to it.

The European Union's Noise Directive has led to noise maps being drawn up in the member states. This was to identify hotspots of noise pollution. While the implementation of measures against the problem has been slow in recent years, more and more EU countries are now declaring war on noise.

Stricter speed limits have recently been introduced on Munich's motorways. This affects 5 stretches of motorway where the speed limit has been reduced by 20 km/h. On some stretches, the speed limit is now 20 km/h. On others, the speed limit has been reduced by 20 km/h. On some stretches, you are now only allowed to drive 60 km/h. Transport Minister Kerstin Schreyer (CSU), had introduced the measure to protect residents in the outskirts of Munich from noise.

Meanwhile, in the Gelbach valley in Rhineland-Palatinate, a project of the ADAC (German Automobile Club) has been launched to sensitise motorcyclists to noise pollution and to encourage them to drive carefully. Signs have been erected in the region with the inscription "Ride quietly. Save the noise! Consideration is appreciated. Thank you!" are intended to draw attention to the problem. Above all, souped-up engines that are deliberately and illegally made louder contribute to the problem. The Federal Council had already advocated time-limited traffic bans for motorbikes, which could be imposed on Sundays and public holidays, for example.

In other European countries, too, more and more is being done to combat road noise. In Switzerland, the National Council wants to work towards making it easier to control and punish excessively loud engine noise. It is often difficult to control noise. Compared to speeding, where it is easy to measure, with noise it is often not possible to clearly separate ambient noise from engine noise. Noise detectors would be the solution. However, this has not yet been approved at the federal level.  

In Barcelona, parents and students are taking the sceptre against air and noise pollution into their own hands. They are demanding traffic-calmed zones around schools. "It's not just about the air. The traffic noise also affects the children's concentration and thus their learning behaviour," explains Guille López, father of two pupils and part of the initiative "Eixample Respira". Every other Friday afternoon, they block roads around 67 primary schools in the city for half an hour to draw attention to the problem.

In Tyrol, there are already driving bans for motorbikes on some popular biker routes. These driving bans could become more and more widespread in Europe in the coming years. Then cities would become more liveable again not only by reducing air pollution but also noise.