ATVs are too noisy for neighborhoods

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2007

Individuals have recently written to the Juneau Empire arguing that since we accept noise from airplanes, helicopters, etc., we should also accept all-terrain vehicle noise in our neighborhood. Essentially, they argue that ATV noise is equivalent to the noise from transportation vehicles and thus is an insignificant addition to the noise currently measurable in the community.

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These arguments fail for several reasons.

First, jet aircraft, small planes and, to a certain extent, helicopters play a vital role in the transportation of potentially all Juneau citizens; ATVs do not.

Second, aircraft noise emitted is transitory and predictable - operating on schedules - with more flights in the tourist season. Although predictable, the period for which noise would be emitted from ATVs operating from 8 a.m. to midnight would be of greater daily and seasonal duration.

Moreover, it would be continuous. Studies regarding noise indicate that: "1) it is not so much the pitch or loudness of a sound that makes it unbearable as it is its repetitive nature, the distraction it causes and the lack of control over it; and 2) that noise levels above 58 decibels can interfere with voice communications and for some people can affect thought processes" (Ohio State University

Recent measurements of sounds emitted by ATVs at Echo Cove exceeded 80 decibels numerous times at distances of more than 300 feet. One emitted sounds measuring 110 decibels at 500 feet - louder than a chain saw running less than 10 feet from a recorder. Further simulations using a chain saw at the edge of the proposed ATV park resulted in 65 decibel measurements at a nearby home approximately 340 feet away.

Clearly, this park would subject numerous homeowners to intolerable levels of continuous noise. Located more than a quarter mile from homes, the Fish Creek Rock Quarry has strict noise controls: blasting only from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. on weekdays, noise not to be above 55 decibels at night, 65 during the day; trucks not to exceed 20 mph. Why is it the city would impose these restrictions on itself and not others?

Debbie Lowenthal

North Douglas

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