01 October 2008

Noise is Pollution, Too

I generally don't like to offer up too many "rant" posts in succession, as I seem to be doing now with the road closure and the Canyon Crest ones, preferring to mix in some history or descriptions of canyon neighborhoods and so on.

BUT, I have to say that last night (or earlier this morning) between 1:15 and 1:45 A.M., there were at least three times when cars came speeding AND roaring through the canyon. Now, this is hardly news to anyone who lives along or near Carbon Canyon Road. It happens on a regular basis.

But, it reminds me of something that I think too few people, including those in authority, think about: Noise is pollution, too.

Obviously when I moved here 4 1/2 years ago, I was aware that traffic was heavy, particularly during commute hours. I am also a light sleeper, which is my problem. Those first few nights, when the cars started to roll on through, starting at about 5 a.m., I couldn't sleep and really wondered if I'd made a bad decision moving to a house that sits right next to the road. Eventually, though, you get used to the traffic, when it is at a certain level of noise.

The problem is the heavy trucks, the cars with modified exhaust systems, and the motorcycles with the massive pipes. I've heard people, like a co-worker, insist that the latter need those pipes so they can be heard on the freeway and not be hit by inattentive drivers.

Sorry, that may be a nice fallback, but the truth is: people, whether they are driving cars, trucks, or motorycles, with loud exhausts have them because they like the sound. In many cases, I'm certain they enjoy making sure that everybody else can hear them loud and clear. The extra added benefit in the Canyon? The sound careens off the canyon walls and amplifies. And, yeah, it is my problem that I'm a light sleeper, that's something I have to deal with. Fair enough.

But, when some of these vehicles approach or even surpass the decibel level of, say, aircraft or factory equipment at full blast or the ravings of talk-radio prophets, that's a societal problem. Unreasonable noise is pollution and it has its effects. Maybe someday we'll have to transport ourselves around using electricity, air compression, hydrogen and other fuels that inherently have to be quieter.

But, I'll bet my bottom dollar (which, given where the economy is, may be all that I'll have left) that people will be clamoring and working really hard to modify their exhaust systems to replicate the good old days of roaring tailpipes so they can announce their presence to the rest of us. Something to look forward to.

And, to all of you who feel compelled to send us who live in the canyon your regards and compliments via tailpipe, thanks. And, make sure you get your hearing checked on a regular basis.

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