The Rose Garden adjacent to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on UBC campus is a lovely place. The ambient sounds there produced readings between 50 and 68, comprised of low traffic noise from North West Marine Drive approximately 25m away, a light breeze rustling in trees and bushes, and some people speaking about 5 metres away. With the wind gusting, the level climbed to 78dBA. Even welcome natural ventilation on a hot day is relatively loud. Part of that difference was likely due to the microphone on the meter not being wind-protected, but this certainly would not be responsible for the entire increase.
Chin Ho Restaurant responds to
requests for quiet
Upon returning, we stopped along 10th Avenue to eat out. The Chinese restaurant Chin Ho was our choice. They play music but will turn it down if requested. There were few people when we arrived; easier for me to manoeuvre my wheelchair. Pretty soon five young guests from “Down Under” took the table next to us, sitting between 90cm and 200cm away. Their very animated chatting was almost as loud as the trolley ride before, ranging from 55 to 70. They were not unpleasant and obviously enjoyed the sunny Canada Day.
Earlier this year the new Golden Ears Bridge over the Fraser River some 45km east of Vancouver was opened. We went to see it. A # 84 diesel bus produced 62dBA while idling, up to 74 at resuming speed. Two vehicles ahead of the bus was a motorbike with “straight pipes” pushing it up to 79. While stopped at an intersection, an idling dump-truck next to the bus brought the level to 69. We continued our trip on the Millennium Line (Sktrain). The train “buzzing” into the station and passengers chatting or shouting produced levels between 66 and 74. Announcements on the train took it up to 82, and departures from stations to 88. Passing another train between stations, the screeching of the wheels on the tracks plus ambient sounds went as high as 92, on one particular stretch up to 96.
Outside the Braid station the ambient sound ranged from 62 to 64. A new diesel bus passing at 3m rang in at 72, the Jake Brakes of a 40-foot semitrailer at 20m, at 74. Traffic noise at the corner of 203 St. and Dewdney Trunk Rd. north of the bridge fluctuated between 64 and 80, with a loud motorbike up to 94. On the new # 595 diesel bus going over the bridge I obtained readings of 76 to 84.
MacDonald's no refuge
Back again at 203 St., we visited the West Gate Centre MacDonald’s. That was no good escape from the traffic noise. While Ilse had her coffee and muffin, I escaped to the toilet; all in vain. The music is piped into every part of that establishment, and enough incentive to rather wait for the next bus outdoors.
More trips on other days brought the following readings: Expo Line Skytrain outbound from Burrard station, from 62 to 78; the rattling of an old #44 bus reached 82dBA; a boom-car passing a #351 diesel bus on Granville St. took it to 96. On the new Canada Line sky-train the announcements in the Waterfront station blared at 84, ambient sounds in the Vancouver Centre station went to 72. The moving train in the underground section ranged from 74 to 82, above ground between 64 and 71, train departure-chime signals went as high as 92dBA! By comparison, a lawn-mower and a very smelly edge-trimmer running below our 3rd -floor open windows produced 72 to 78dBA.
More on big-city noise
The July–August special issue of Discover Magazine, published online July 24, 2009, carried the following interesting article: What Do Urban Sounds Do to Your Brain? A sonic tour of New York, from the agonizing screech of the Union Square subway station to one of the quietest rooms in the city: Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, by Jennifer Barone. It’s posted at <http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jul-aug/24-what-do-urban-sounds-do-your-brain>.