Clearing the air on noise monitoring

Many of you have had questions about the noise monitoring pilot since its start in August, so here are some answers to some of your most common questions.

Why is the City monitoring vehicle noise?
Excessive vehicle noise affects quality of life for many people. Some have called us to say a loud vehicle at two in the morning woke them up. Others told us they had to shout at each other just to have conversation outside because of a loud vehicle. We heard from many of you – and thanks for sharing by the way – so in 2016 your City councillors voted to start the first ever noise monitoring study, primarily at downtown locations. This year, city staff expanded the study to eight locations across the city, with new noise monitoring equipment. It is because this issue is important to you that we’re doing this.

How does noise monitoring equipment work?
Quite simply, it measures sound. As many of you know, decibels are the units used to measure how loud something is. When a noise reaches a certain threshold, the equipment captures the sound and records the noise decibel along with other data that city staff will analyze later to determine if there is vehicle noise trend in Edmonton. Some of the noise monitoring equipment have digital cameras that take an image of an area where a certain level of noise is occuring. No, it won’t result in a ticket to a vehicle owner but it will show if it is possible to use this kind of equipment for enforcement.

Will there be automated noise enforcement?
Not any time soon. We are still in the early stage where we need to see if the equipment works in helping to educate people about vehicle noise and then potentially enforcing excessive vehicle noise. If the equipment works, your City Councillors would need to approve a bylaw before enforcement can begin. So, no tickets are issued at this time.

So what will happen in the meantime?
The equipment collects the data, city staff will study it, and share with findings with City Council on November 14 of this year.

What happened to those signs that showed how loud your engine was?
Those display signs were intended to work like the display signs showing how fast you were going at along certain roads. Those speed display signs encouraged people to slow down. We intended the same thing to happen with the noise display signs, that motorists would actually see how loud they were and would try to quiet their engine. Unfortunately, that was not what happened. Residents who lived near locations with the display signs told the City that some drivers intentionally revved their engines to make as much noise as possible to activate the displays. Because many of you shared your experience with those incidents, we knew we had to shut down the signs to prevent more of this kind of behaviour. It’s unfortunate it happened but it doesn’t mean the pilot is over. The display signs may be off but the equipment is still collecting data on noise.

I still want to make a complaint about vehicle. Where do I make it?
The Edmonton Police Service does accept and investigate vehicle noise complaints. You can call their non-emergency complaint line at 780-423-4567. As a City, we still would like to know how excessive vehicle noise affects you. We encourage you to share your experience by filling out a noise report on the Vehicle Noise Monitoring Pilot webpage. You can also call 311.

What happens to the noise reports I make to the City?
When people share information about their experiences with excessive vehicle noise, it helps us better understand how widespread the issue may be, and whether certain factors contribute to excessive noise—such as time of day, location, type of vehicle, and direction of travel. The information will be aggregated and then studied, and may be shared with City Councillors.

Who can I contact for more information about the pilot?
We encourage you to email us at vehiclenoise@edmonton.ca if you have questions not answered on this blog.

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