Sounds and noises in Barcelona
Barcelona, like all cities in the world, is a soundscape.
People, commercial activity, traffic and animal biodiversity are a source of sounds and noises which characterize the urban space.
In recent years, citizens’ awareness towards noise has increased. Therefore, the City Council is making an effort to improve the sound quality of the city by implementing a broad range of measures. These efforts are part of the Strategic Noise Map and the Plan for Reducing Noise Pollution.
We all generate noise and, at the same time, we can all help to reduce it.
Perception of sounds
Sounds allow us communicate through speech, make us be aware of dangers and give us pleasant listening experiences. In everyday life we are surrounded by countless sounds which are the result of our activity.
The perception of sound, however, is a subjective phenomenon. Not everybody perceives them or are affected in the same way.
Even though sound can be measured scientifically, its effect on each one of us depends on many factors such as mood and health, the time of the day or age.
Thus, for a person who is not bothered by any sound at all, for another it can be a nuisance and a source of discomfort.
When noise becomes a nuisance to a major part of the population, it is referred as noise pollution to highlight the damage caused on urban environment and welfare of people.
Barcelona is a compact city where many uses and activities coincide in one space, which generate different types of sounds and noises.
As in most cities, the main noise comes from traffic, major transport facilities, leisure activities, shopping areas and industrial activities.
Traffic is by far the main source, but has become a widespread environmental noise which does not cause as many complaints as other sources from a more precise and localized kind. For example, leisure activities are the second cause of noise, but, unlike the traffic, they are located in specific areas within the city.
In terms of noise, the City Council is committed to improve the sound quality of the city by implementing and leading programs and priority measures, as well as collaboration, cooperation and information frameworks which enable:
- to reduce the overall noise of the city, especially in areas that exceed the limit values
- to protect quiet areas from an increase in noise pollution
Citizens get involved
As citizens we must be aware that we are responsible for the noise and the close relationship between noise, health and quality of life.
The amount of noise generated by each one of us or by activities in public areas are the cause of the background noise in a certain place.
That is the reason why adopting a civil and respectful behaviour towards neighbours and citizens make ourselves become the main agents for reducing noise.
Local responsibility is mainly focused on streets. However, job or housing are fields in which individual attitude has a leading role in creating a comfortable acoustic environment without nuisance for citizens.
How can we help?
Advice and best practices
At home or at work
- Soundproof spaces at home where we do noisy activities (sewing machines, musical instruments ...).
- Distribute spaces of our homes so that rest areas remain isolated from the noise.
- Carry out construction work as quite as possible and after rest hours.
- Install properly noisier systems (the air conditioning, for example) to reduce noise impact and keep them in good conditions to avoid making too much noise.
- Avoid banging doors or other objects on the floor or walls of the house.
- Educate pets in order they do not disturb neighbours.
- Be careful when organising private parties so that they do not affect the rest of citizens.
- Use radios, TVs or stereos in a low volume in order not to disturb neighbours.
- Be careful when using certain appliances during sleeping hours.
On the streets
- Drive peacefully, avoiding to accelerate unnecessary.
- Use the horn only when it is completely reasonable.
- For professionals driving vehicles with sirens, please use them in a responsible way as less as possible.
- Maintain vehicles and control their noise level.
- If you drive a motorcycle, review its exhaust and avoid to accelerate suddenly.
- Always use approved mechanical elements according to the regulation in force.