Noise! What do you think about it? Does your opinion depend upon your mood? Do you differentiate between pleasant and annoying noise? Like most of us, you probably welcome the noise of songbirds chirping over the neighbor’s dog barking incessantly. You pray that the dog develops laryngitis and shuts up. Who does not yearn for peace and quiet over mind-splitting noise?
Merriam-Webster, the well-known and often used dictionary, defines noise as “any sound that is undesirable or interferes with one’s hearing of something.” In the alternative, noise is also defined as “loud, confused, or senseless shouting or outcry.” Noise can be manmade or biologically produced.
More so than in rural areas, big cities suffer from noise pollution. Depending on the time of day, the noise decibels can easily reach dangerous levels. There are often no preventive measures that can be taken to protect your eyes. Unless you wear earplugs as part of your wardrobe.
In NYC noise pollution is the most numerous civic compliant. “Though the city’s sounds are part of what makes life here unique, too much of it can be dangerous — affecting hearing, stress levels and more.” According to NYC’s Department of Health 20% of New Yorkers say they are frequently disturbed by noise at home. The Health Department has concluded that noise levels of outdoor noise around the city often exceeds federal and international guidelines designed to protect public health. If you have spent time in New York City, you probably concluded without the aid of an official study that noise is a big problem.
Does NYC have laws to control noise pollution? Of course, it does. The main law that deals with the problem is the Noise Code. As comprehensive as this law may be, the main concern of New Yorkers (me) is NYC’s enforcement of the code’s provisions. A resident who is being bombarded by noise can call 311to file a complaint or file the complaint online. Adequate relief from noise pollution comes down to effective enforcement. Sarah Sax in her December 4, 2019 post at CityandStateNY.com, “New York City Needs to Better Regulate Noise” believes that City can and should do a better job combating noise pollution. Using in depth analysis of the problem and supporting her conclusions with hard data, Ms. Sax makes out the case the NYC could be doing much better in addressing excessive noise.
If you have not already concluded, yes, I live in NYC. My home sits on designated truck route. Consequently, commercial vehicles of every type pass in front of my home. Add this commercial traffic to the numerous private cars passing by and the noise can be deafening. Also, the Long Island Rail Road’s commuter trains fly by every few minutes. I can attest to the fact that noise pollution does exit in NYC. I must admit that the noise levels are less than before the pandemic. The drop in noise levels is noticeable throughout the City. Regardless, I can tune out almost all annoying outside noises. I have little difficulty concentrating on the task at hand.
There is an 18-wheeler that is often parked in front of my home. The driver, whom I have spoken with, does not park his rig to make a delivery. To the best of my knowledge, he has never unloaded an item from the truck. This monstrous truck is often parked below my window for days. For whatever reason, the driver keeps the truck idling. The law prohibiting trucks from extended idling is clear:
The New York City Administrative Code, Title 24, Section 24-163 establishes that no person should allow the engine of a motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, standing, or stopping
The noise that this idling truck produces is nerve racking. I cannot tune out this particular noise. The smell of diesel fuel enters my home through every opening. It is nauseating. The truck idling is nothing more than a public nuisance. My neighbors and I have filed numerous noise complaints about the truck. The City has not only not taken any action against the driver but it has never sent out an investigator to ascertain what is happening. Talking with the driver of the rig has not resolved the problem.
So why does the driver park his truck on a residential street and leave it idling for hours on end? He claims that it is too expensive to park his truck in a designated truck park. I (and so have my neighbors) explained to him that it was a violation of law to park his truck for more than 3 hours on a residential street. His response did not surprise me. I could file a complaint with the City but that he would not move his truck or turn off the engine. To protect his truck from vandals, he is had to stay in the cab section 24hrs a day. I was told by the driver that he idles the engine so that he can stay cool or warm, depending the season. He regretted disturbing me but had no alternative but to do so. I found the driver’s logic and explanations confusing and troublesome. If everyone thought like he did, law and order and free commerce would collapse. He seemed to be saying in so many words that it was just my bad luck!