Photo credit: Loco Steve licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

This article by Nicholas Hellen in London Sunday Times is an update on the acoustic cameras that were installed in several UK boroughs. Hellen reports that almost 10,000 vehicles triggered the cameras between June 2021 and February 2022 “by breaking the law at four locations in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.” The cameras could also identify which cars were being driven and BMW drivers were caught most frequently. In Westminster, a driver’s car registered on the camera at 111.1 dBs. Furthermore, city centers were becoming places where motorists with heavily modified mufflers would have “car meets” where they perform stunts until their tires start smoking. These “meets” are being investigated by the police.

To allow the issuance of violations by the use of noise cameras in Kensington and Chelsea, a public official had to get around a legal loophole by declaring noise a “problem of antisocial behaviour.” The public official, Johnny Thalassites, stated that these noise cameras are not there to punish ordinary people from conducting their business but to remind them that they must do so in a “reasonable way.”

The noise camera project is in its early stages and improvements are still needed. For example, it is difficult to measure noise from an individual car when the roads are busy. But as councillor Sof McVeigh noted, “[n]oise is a misery,” and, undoubtedly, British residents are pleased that this program is underway.

I wish to add that New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is moving forward with its noise camera pilot program and we should hear soon about how it is progressing.