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July 6, 2009 11:06 AM   Subscribe

There's nothing like the husky growl of an automobile engine. Of course to some people its just noise. But what if cars were quiet? That's right .... we'd complain they were too quiet. Then we'd have to fix that.
posted by ElvisJesus (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This strikes me as a solution looking for a genuine problem. A car rolling at any kind of speed makes plenty of noise, engine or no engine. I wonder if anyone has done any actual studies as to the number of accidents involving pedestrians per mile driven in hybrids vs other cars?
posted by yoink at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2009


So, pedestrians have learned that they don't have to look both ways if they hear a car coming, and people are getting hurt because they don't hear a hybrid coming and don't look? For that, I have trouble mustering sympathy.

On the other hand, if you're a blind person who cannot look both ways, this is a very real problem. Cars do make noise even if they're electric, but at low speeds they make almost none at all. I wonder if a solution that makes electric cars emit a sound below a certain speed might make sense.
posted by davejay at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, there are other reasons to have sound.

I have a cousin who drives a one the electric Toyota Rav4's. He ran over his wife's foot because he didn't know she was messing with the baby seat in the back, and she didn't realize my cousin and had turned the car. Obviously, he should have noticed her in the back, but in a regular car she would have heard the car start.
posted by sideshow at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2009


Please, please, please...let them make them with the Jetson's car sound.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:18 AM on July 6, 2009 [17 favorites]


The issue is that hybrids are quiet amongst the noise of other vehicles. Hybrids in "electric mode" can be dangerous to the blind. If there was no traffic noises, you might hear the low hum of the electric workings of a hybrid. I rather enjoy being stopped at quiet corners and hearing other things besides the idle hum of the car engine.

Why not install whistling devices instead of some electronic gadget? Then the noise would be related to the speed.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on July 6, 2009


Suddenly I find myself thinking a relatively quiet but highly directional high-pitched bursts of white noise emitted from 1mph->15mph (and more quietly at 0mph) would be appropriate. Something aimed off the right quarter panel and highly differentiated from the beeps that crosswalks emit (in some cities) to indicate it's okay for people to cross the street.

It wouldn't have to be that loud, because you can't have it both ways: either the cars are noisy enough to drown out a quiet noise (in which case you can hear 'em coming anyway) or they're not (so you don't need to make it very loud.)

Of course, all bets are off near construction sites, but that's always (quite unfortunately) problematic for blind folks, I believe.
posted by davejay at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2009


Imagine a world where all hybrids sound like your local ice cream truck...
posted by scrutiny at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2009


This reminds me of the time my coworker was saying that electric cars were a bad idea because it put gas stations out of business. Specifically, there'd be fewer of them in the long stretches of wilderness such as Wyoming and Montana. It was never clearly explained why this would be a bad thing.
posted by DU at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a very interesting story, sideshow. I didn't even think about that scenario, but you're right. And a child playing behind a car would likely be very startled by the start of an engine right next to them, but a hybrid or pure electric...

Hm. Suddenly I'm starting to see the larger problem.
posted by davejay at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2009


forgot that backup beepers already exist, and so having those be mandatory on hybrids would at least be an easy, cheap and straightforward way to start
posted by davejay at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2009


Custom car sounds will be the new custom ring tones.

Contemplate that for just a few minutes.
posted by logicpunk at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Problem Solved. Thanks again internet.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2009


I cycle in city traffic and a lot of my spatial awareness, especially of what is coming up behind me, is by ear. I have a very real fear that I'm going to switch lanes to pass a parked car one day and get run over by an electric or hybrid car right behind me that I didn't hear coming.

As an aside, I don't know how anyone could ride a bike in traffic with headphones on. Deathwish to the max.
posted by thecjm at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


A Prius that plays Mozart at starting? Cool
posted by Cranberry at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2009


This is the same argument used to allow motorcycles to sound like they're going 70 MPH when they're going 5. We live in a world of too much noise and light pollution, and the only solutions people ever proffer is to add more light or more noise to compensate.
posted by explosion at 11:40 AM on July 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am very cautious, but almost got run over by a Prius a couple years ago. I was walking with a friend, looked both ways at a crosswalk, and started to cross. I was looking at my friend chatting when he suddenly stopped, and grabbed my arm to stop me as well. The Prius zipped by about foot away. The driver had pulled out of a parking spot as we crossed, and apparently didn't understand the concept of "crosswalk" or even "big fleshy things in front of my car." I'm not positive that some kind of sound would have prevented a close call, but it was sure surprising to see the Prius magically appear our of nowhere.

Please, please, please...let them make them with the Jetson's car sound.


I vote yes! A little puttering sound that's loud enough for a pedestrian to hear, but not loud enough to matter to the occupants.
posted by The Deej at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2009


It's notable that this is not only a consumer safety issue, but also one of consumer satisfaction. For almost a century the public has associated louder with more power and thus faster and better. It's notable that electric powered dragsters will beat most any liquid-fueled engine on the strip, but they are banned from most racing events. There's no question that the new vehicles are faster, but they are significantly less satisfying to a watching crowd. That psychological move - from primal associations of growls and howls to swift, silent and efficient - is one of the unspoken hurdles that has to be overcome in general acceptance of green technology.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just require hybrid drivers to put their heads out and yell VROOOM! VROOM! when they pass by. Problem solved.
posted by qvantamon at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I drive a Prius and I have had a pedestrian step off a curb right into my path. Scared the hell outta both of us. This has only happened to me downtown, where there is a concentration of noise and many distractions. I also honk the horn when I get in the car to scare away the cats that may be lurking beneath.

This seems like a problem that will work itself out. As more and more hybrids and electric vehicles fill the streets, people will become accustomed to using their eyes as well as their ears. As for the blind, well, hmmm. Try to strike a glancing blow instead of barreling into them head-on, I guess.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2009


I hafta disagree with explosion. Loud pipes really do save lives. I know people alive today because the other driver heard the bike. Also, rev a bike with big fat pipes and then tell me it doesn't feel awesome. Better loud pipes than a subwoofer in the trunk.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2009


I have to say that for a little econo-box, I love the vroom-vroom noises that my Honda Fit makes. I don't know if it would feel the same driving a silent car.
posted by octothorpe at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2009


This is why, when I got my Prius, the first thing I did was outfit it with a whistle-tip.
posted by box at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hum the theme song to "Jaws" when I'm looking for a space in a parking lot - I drive a Prius, and at parking lot speeds, it's silent.
posted by rtha at 12:14 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This seems like a problem that will work itself out. As more and more hybrids and electric vehicles fill the streets, people will become accustomed to using their eyes as well as their ears.

It's still nice to have extra safety precautions though. We could make trains without train whistles, but having them does send a strong message of "Don't cross the tracks" that is hard to replicate with other methods. Young kids for example tend to be pretty clueless about running out into traffic, and it's helpful that dangerous, fast-moving cars have a nice loud and scary noise associated with them that force people to pay attention even if they don't bother looking both ways. Cars are really some of the most dangerous things we have around us in our normal lives, so it makes sense to spend extra effort making them more noticeable if it can mean saving lives.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2009


Yes, hybrids need to make some kind of noise. Anyone who disagrees may wait outside my office. I'll be along shortly to administer a beating with my white cane* discuss the issue in a civilized manner.

*jk
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 12:20 PM on July 6, 2009


I don't mind cars making some sound, but oh how I wish TTC buses could be made to be at least SOMEWHAT quieter. I have a bus stop right next door to my house, and in the summer when the windows are open I can't hear the TV when there's a bus just outside.
posted by orange swan at 12:21 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I cycle in city traffic and a lot of my spatial awareness, especially of what is coming up behind me, is by ear. ...As an aside, I don't know how anyone could ride a bike in traffic with headphones on. Deathwish to the max.

I occasionally do this, and I don't have a deathwish. 90% of my ride is on a four lane road with constant traffic. There's *always* a car coming up behind me; that information is almost useless. Also, wind noise is a pretty big problem for me, for example my music is low enough so that it's inaudible over the wind at high speeds. So whatever benefit I'm getting with no headphones is lost when the speed is over about 15 mph.

That said, I do ride with a (helmet-mounted) mirror, and don't prefer the headphones when I'm without the mirror. The mirror tells me what cars are *doing* back there, which is much more helpful than just whether or not someone is there.

I can see where this is helpful for the blind, but in most cases sight gives you more information in my experience.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:25 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief : Why not install whistling devices instead of some electronic gadget? Then the noise would be related to the speed.

I am a survey sample of one, but I personally would hate this beyond words; years ago I had a car with a hole. I describe it as such because somewhere on the frame of that vehicle was a place that when wind passed over it, it would whistle fairly loud.

Loud enough to be heard over my radio, anyways. I fucking hated it. I'm one of those people that can't stand to have a rattle in my car, and I'll chase down loose panels or vibrating exhaust brackets and lock them down. This serves two purposes, first, it makes for a more enjoyable drive, and secondly it lets me know when something is wrong. I can tell when my car is sad just by the changes in noise that it makes, and rattles and creaks and... whistles, makes this difficult.

Anyhow, this car I had; I taped over every damned hole in that car that might have been exposed to wind at speed, but I could never find it. I would press the gas, the car would go forward, and at anything over 5mph the car would start to squeal like a gas powered tea-kettle.

Drove me crazy, that car did. I ended up killing it with a semi, but that's a different story.
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2009


It's all a bit Horsey Horseless, but it does make sense. Even at parking lot speeds, a silent car with an inattentive driver can sneak up on you after you've already looked in its direction; the hum of even the quietest combustion engine can be helpful.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2009


Solution: hockey card in the spokes.

"I hafta disagree with explosion. Loud pipes really do save lives. I know people alive today because the other driver heard the bike."

If motorcyclists were serious about this they'd point open pipes forward and to the sides to get maximum effect in the danger zones. However it's 99% about being obnoxious so they point their noisy pipes rearward to get the most out of their "look at me" attention whoring.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just crank the stereo. My wife says she hears it half a block away.
posted by pointilist at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2009


This strikes me as a solution looking for a genuine problem. A car rolling at any kind of speed makes plenty of noise, engine or no engine.

After you nearly get run over by a hybrid in a parking lot because you didn't hear it coming we'll have to see. It is scary as hell to look up and see that you are just about to step into the path of a ton of silently rolling steel.

The tires do make some noise, but being high mpg tires it is less than normal tires. It does not take much background noise to cover up the sounds of these rolling boxes of potential disaster.
posted by caddis at 12:57 PM on July 6, 2009


I like the quiet mode on the Prius. I figured out long ago, being sneaky was more likely to be useful than being loud and flashy. But I concede the problem, readily. Sound is extremely important to our sense of what is around, probably more than most folks realize, by the responses here. But if I owned such a car, and needed a sound effect, I'd want it to be one of those popping ball push toys, or perhaps a wind-up mechanical.

But I will note, the majority of traffic noise is actually the sound of tires on pavement. It carries very far. As a kid, I learned to tell where cars were in much of my town, by sound, in the quiet of the night. When that sound is absent, the silence can be quite amazing, when you're used to it being constant.
posted by Goofyy at 1:16 PM on July 6, 2009


However it's 99% about being obnoxious so they point their noisy pipes rearward to get the most out of their "look at me" attention whoring.

So we agree. Loud pipes make people notice motorcycles. That's a Good Thing. Call it attention-whoring if you must, as long as you notice the bike. That's the whole damn point.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2009


Making a lot of general annoying noise continually or manually is a bit primitive and it subjects everyone to the noise, even people not on the street and not interested in your car and what it's doing. Instead, think more like air traffic control systems (e.g., ADS-B).

Electronics are cheap. The car should transmit a silent signal (radio, not a horn) that anyone interested in listening to traffic warnings could detect within a limited range. Other cars could detect it and offer dashboard warnings, crosswalks could detect it and adjust crossing signals accordingly, bikes and toys and pet collars could detect it, all people (including blind and deaf people) wearing something on their wrists or necks or in their ears or in their phones or mp3 players could detect it. Standardize the signal and then let manufacturers add detectors to their products. If the signal carried the vehicle's location, speed, direction, and mass, receiving devices could be quite creative in the sorts of warnings they gave people: there's a motorcycle coming up behind you at 60 mph, there's a dump truck backing up near you, there's a semi coming way too fast to stop for the light at the upcoming intersection, etc.

And people in homes, gardens, restaurants, parks, and businesses downtown might hear little but, oh, say, conversations and music and birds.
posted by pracowity at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I hafta disagree with explosion. Loud pipes really do save lives. I know people alive today because the other driver heard the bike."

I will make the bold claim that there is no biker alive today because his motorcycle made more noise at 5 MPH than a car does at 70.

I don't mind them being loud on the highway, it's the revving and blasting sounds before they even get started, and then they take off with much more bark than bite, all to feel more manly and macho while pissing off the residents and deafening the pedestrians.
posted by explosion at 1:24 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


RikiTikiTavi: Please MeMail me before you go bicycling in Portland, because I ride kind of fast and I will probably have to pass you on my own bicycle and with your headphones you will be creating a huge safety hazard for both of us especially if there are any cars behind us and just to be safe I will start carrying an airhorn since you won't hear me if I just politely say "on your left" before I pass you.

By the way we already have silent vehicles on most roadways: my bicycle for example. I can't tell you how many times I have been moving at a good pace and a pedestrian jaywalks right in front of me without looking both ways, causing me to nearly miss them as they shout "JESUS CHRIST" in my ear. Luckily a bike turns pretty quickly and is narrow enough to easily steer around your ignorant ass.
posted by idiopath at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2009


explosion : all to feel more manly and macho while pissing off the residents and deafening the pedestrians.

Epo...

No. Too easy.

As to the loud pipes save lives, I think it's unquestionable that a louder bike is more noticeable than a nearly silent one (I'm looking at you early '90s Honda Goldwings), but that there is a point at which the volume of sound produced is no longer functionally useful and is, in fact, pointlessly loud just for the sake of being so.

Most stock bikes (I live in Milwaukee so I'm talking mostly Harleys here) have a pretty reasonable exhaust system; fairly quiet when starting, a low rumble at idle, and progressively louder as the RPM increases. Even the custom chopper shops down the road from me stick with this.
posted by quin at 1:42 PM on July 6, 2009


The mirror tells me what cars are *doing* back there, which is much more helpful than just whether or not someone is there.

I'm agnostic on the question of whether I care whether other cyclists wear headphones or not, but it needs to be said that you can tell a lot more from the car noise than just whether one is there. You can tell how fast the car's going, you can tell whether it's accelerating, you can tell whether they're coming up to pass you too closely or just sitting back behind you waiting for a gap in the next lane over. I haven't had any negative experiences with hybrids, but I can certainly imagine some, especially as wider adoption makes them more likely to be driven by aggressive, careless drivers.
posted by kowalski at 1:43 PM on July 6, 2009


I drive an electric vespa-like scooter. More than once I've had people come close to hitting me, even though I've had the horn blaring, whose excuse (when I caught up with them at the next light) was that "I heard the horn, but didn't hear an engine, so I didn't figure you were actually that close".
posted by nomisxid at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2009


I don't mind them being loud on the highway, it's the revving and blasting sounds before they even get started, and then they take off with much more bark than bite, all to feel more manly and macho while pissing off the residents and deafening the pedestrians.
posted by explosion at 4:24 PM


Exactly. Do they really have to be loud enough to set off car alarms as they drive down the street?
posted by orme at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2009


the deej posted: I was walking with a friend, looked both ways at a crosswalk, and started to cross. I was looking at my friend chatting when he suddenly stopped, and grabbed my arm to stop me as well. The Prius zipped by about foot away.

This is the part that needs to be addressed more than the sound. I'm all for a quieter road or highway but driver education seems to be a thing of the past. Do you need cars to be such expensive and incredible safety devices when even a little education can prevent most accidents?
posted by JJ86 at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2009


It's a problem that will sort itself out over time. In the meantime, I wonder if it's possible to hack the sound system to sound like an ice-cream truck with a loose muffler ...
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:19 PM on July 6, 2009


Call it attention-whoring if you must, as long as you notice the bike. That's the whole damn point.

This. I ride a little Honda scooter; believe me, I'm not trying to be an attention whore (or if I am, I am doing it wrong.) Nevertheless, I will not ride one of those electric scooters because they don't make sound. The odd and annoying sound my scooter makes draws attention to make up for the much smaller visual target I represent. It is definitely a factor in my daily safety. And, you know, what nomisxid said.

I will make the bold claim that there is no biker alive today because his motorcycle made more noise at 5 MPH than a car does at 70.

I drive my cars with my windows cracked so that I can hear sirens and other cars and such in close proximity (my car is very, very quiet inside with the windows up.) There have been more occasions than I can count where I was about to change lanes, cleared my blind spot and my mirror, then just before doing it heard the faint whine of a motorcycle engine and abandoned it (only to have the bike shoot by immediately after, painfully loud.) In a few cases, it was enough of a close call that I (in the car!) ended up with a racing heart and counting my lucky stars. I can say with absolute certainty that I would have injured or killed one of those motorcyclists in one of those cases. You could make the case that it would be their fault (for lane splitting at too high a speed or in a bad situation) but the bottom line is we're all in it together.
posted by davejay at 2:50 PM on July 6, 2009


BitterOldPunk: "So we agree. Loud pipes make people notice motorcycles. That's a Good Thing. Call it attention-whoring if you must, as long as you notice the bike. That's the whole damn point."

But how loud does it have to be? A little noise to get noticed by the big scary automobiles is one thing, but I can't tell you how fucking sick and tired I am of people with bikes so loud I can't hold a conversation with the person in the seat next to me in my car. Or bikes so loud that everyone seated at an outdoor restaurant has to stop talking until the motorcycle is past. That's bullshit.

At what point does personal responsibility come into things? Doesn't a rider accept that a motorcycle is harder to see and more exposed than a car when they purchase it? Isn't that part of it's 'bad boy charm'? It will always be less safe by its very nature. So it isn't fair to 'fix' that by making the bike so loud that it is obnoxious to EVERYONE in a two-hundred foot radius.

My feeling is: If you're worried about safety, buy a goddamn car. If you want a dick extension, then buy a motorcycle, but STFU and leave me my peace and quiet.

I don't think I should have to be inconvenienced by motor-cyclists vanity.

And yes, I find hot-rods without mufflers just as obnoxious.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2009


Bells!

It's what quiet bikes need for Multi-Use Paths shared with walkers & joggers to let them know we're coming and it's more polite/less startling than a horn.

Tire powered bells, Radlaufglocke or Sturmklingel in German, let you make a continuous ringing without wearing out your finger. Kevin Kelly posted a giant Chinese pedicab one a while back.

I'd much rather a little motor bang on some nice acoustic brass bells when a hybrid's moving under battery power at under 15 M.P.H. than a speaker making *any* kind of noise.
posted by morganw at 3:36 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The talk in Japan of adding required noise to hybrids will most likely end with some god-awful noise being attached to them. I quite like the quietness of the hybrid here. It's a counterpoint to trucks that tell you (and this is all of them) in a high pitched artificial woman's voice, exactly which way they are turning. In very polite Japanese. At very, very loud volume. Or, for example, walking past the cacaphony that is a pachinko parlor when the doors open.

This is one of the noisiest countries in the world, and what do they do when something silent comes along? Add noise to it. It's like Harrison Bergeron for quiet and piece of mind.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:45 PM on July 6, 2009


I'd like my electric car to blast Ride of the Valkyries.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:28 PM on July 6, 2009


This is knee jerk, surely. People have got used to hearing cars before needing to look for them. Once they get used to realising that they won't necessarily hear them, then they'll modify their habits accordingly.

Just as people get used to faster traffic, they can get used to quieter traffic. Making the whole system quieter and less intrusive is far, far better for everyone. Making city centres just as loud (but with a different type of noise) for people that don't look both ways properly when they cross the road is dumb. People will get used to this, in time, so there is no need to flap while the differences are being noticed by some.
posted by Brockles at 5:36 PM on July 6, 2009


It's notable that electric powered dragsters will beat most any liquid-fueled engine on the strip

Notable in what sense? In the sense that this statement isn't in any way true, nor that they are banned? They are currently significantly slower and just race in a different category.
posted by Brockles at 5:39 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


After you nearly get run over by a hybrid in a parking lot because you didn't hear it coming we'll have to see. It is scary as hell to look up and see that you are just about to step into the path of a ton of silently rolling steel.

The tires do make some noise, but being high mpg tires it is less than normal tires. It does not take much background noise to cover up the sounds of these rolling boxes of potential disaster.


If there's anything in these kinds of claims beyond anecdata it should show up pretty straightforwardly in accident statistics. I think deliberately increasing the noise pollution of our already appallingly noise polluted cities should wait on that research rather than being precipitated by these kinds of post-hoc "the reason I got startled by that car was because it was a hybrid which may or may not have been operating in electric mode!" stories.
posted by yoink at 6:07 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Audi just suddenly accelerated and ran into me!
posted by box at 6:28 PM on July 6, 2009


"'the reason I got startled by that car was because it was a hybrid which may or may not have been operating in electric mode!' stories."

And that totally leaves aside the confirmation bias of the occasions where a plain old Lincoln or Accord startled someone when they weren't paying attention but they wrote it off because it wasn't a hybrid/electric auto.
posted by Mitheral at 6:34 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think yoink has few data points.
posted by caddis at 6:46 PM on July 6, 2009


I think yoink has few data points.

Gosh, what gave it away, caddis? Could it have been the fact that I'm arguing that we don't have any data points?
posted by yoink at 9:36 PM on July 6, 2009


Thanks for linking to that page, uncleozzy. When I saw the FPP it reminded me of a story I'd read a few years ago about a turn-of-century inventor who developed a motorcar headed by a full-sized horse dummy, with the engine in its gut and the steering system hooked up to its reins. Same concept as the horse head on the hood, but much more desparately anachronistic.

Damn if I can remember what it was called or who made it, though. I recall reading it in one of those "Bathroom Reader" trivia books in an article about weird cars, along with other charmers like the one with the engine in the back or the eight-wheeled "Octo-car" that promised a smoother ride. Too bad the BR database isn't digitized and searchable.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:38 PM on July 6, 2009


After a bit more googling, the best I can find is this, though it doesn't seem very reliable. Further searches on the name "Joseph Barsaleux" don't check out, unfortunately -- maybe the name's misspelled?
posted by Rhaomi at 10:44 PM on July 6, 2009


If the Horsey Horseless was ever actually produced, it might have been an exploding horse: the horse dummy was also, according to this link anyway, the fuel tank. But I suspect this was a wacky patent that no one ever built.
posted by pracowity at 11:02 PM on July 6, 2009


Loud pipes really do save lives. I know people alive today because the other driver heard the bike. Also, rev a bike with big fat pipes and then tell me it doesn't feel awesome. Better loud pipes than a subwoofer in the trunk.

You don't like subwoofers but loud pipes are a-okay? How, exactly, are loud pipes better than subwoofers, they are both equally annoying to most non-motorcycle riders, especially to this non-motorcycle rider. While its true that noise is noticable there is utterly no reason for a motorcycle to sound like gunfire. Maybe if you were passing an Iraq War vet and watched him/her dive to the ground and pull out a sidearm you might feel differently.

Other than blind people, many of whom utilize service animals anyway, I cannot see the harm in quieter cars or bikes. If people weren't jaywalking all the time maybe they wouldn't get run down as much. Now in a place like Mexico City, it's a different story altogether.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:58 PM on July 6, 2009


People, people. Clearly there is only one sound these vehicles should make. As for occasions on my pedal bike when I wish to signal my presence to those dipsticks who ignore both my voice and bell; well ... I run one of these. A good blast or two from that baby has scared more than one nimrod right off the frikken seawall. Works with bears in the back-country too. But I see that they make a portable one now. Gonna get me one of those, and attach it to the tank bag on the motorcycle. Meets US Coast Guard Requirements indeed.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:34 AM on July 7, 2009


By the way we already have silent vehicles on most roadways: my bicycle for example. I can't tell you how many times I have been moving at a good pace and a pedestrian jaywalks right in front of me without looking both ways, causing me to nearly miss them as they shout "JESUS CHRIST" in my ear. Luckily a bike turns pretty quickly and is narrow enough to easily steer around your ignorant ass.
I can't tell you how many times I've been crossing a crosswalk at a stop sign or on a "walk" signal and a bicyclist decided traffic rules didn't apply to them and plowed right through the intersection, nearly hitting me in the process.

Not that cars don't do the same shit too, of course, though in my experience they're turning right on green and don't realize pedestrians have the damned right of way when they have the walk signal.
posted by kmz at 9:15 AM on July 7, 2009


kmz: yeah I slow down at crosswalks whether I see someone right away or not, I was just trying to say that the only change is that the silent vehicles are more deadly now, but they have been on the streets longer than vehicles with loud motors have.
posted by idiopath at 4:52 PM on July 7, 2009


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