Below are questions and answers about the project. In case you search for another answer, please feel free to add your question in the form at the bottom of the page.

What are quiet (urban) areas?

According to the Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC a quiet area in an agglomeration’ shall mean an area, delimited by the competent authority, for instance which is not exposed to a value of Lden or of another appropriate noise indicator greater than a certain value set by the Member State, from any noise source. These kind of areas are often mentioned Quiet Urban Areas , abbreviated QUA.

However, a quiet area in open country’ shall mean an area, delimited by the competent authority, that is undisturbed by noise from traffic, industry or recreational activities;

The definition given by the Environmental Noise Directive is rather poor and other definitions are also given in literature.

How to distinguish a Quiet (Urban) Area?

Quiet (Urban) Areas should be designated by the competent authorities. This can be a municipality (e.g. city council) or a regional or national governmental body. Often this designation is published in journals or newspapers. In some cases the competent body installs a sign at the entrances of the QUA. In the Netherlands the sign depicted below is often used. The text in the sign says QUIET AREA.

quiet area sign


Is a Quiet (Urban) Area really quiet?

A Quiet Area in the open country is often quiet meaning there is hardly no human induced noise and the noise levels are rather quiet. A thresholds often used are 40 dB(A) Lday  or even 35 dB(A) Lday.

A quiet area in an agglomeration (QUA) is not always quiet in the sense that noise levels are low. When the noise is rather low compared with the immediate vicinity of that area, the area is also considered as quiet or relatively quiet.

Is a Quiet (Urban) Area always quiet?

A Quiet (Urban) Area can be considered as quiet in some periods and as not quiet or even noisy in other periods. An example could be a natural area near a camping or recreational area that is used during the summer while during the winter no activities will be held. These types of areas could be considered as  temporary quiet areas and designated in a similar way. It might be clear that most of these areas appear in the open country and not in agglomerations or urbanised environments. However, it could not be excluded that these areas are also present in urban areas.

Is the noise in a Quiet Urban Area homogeneous?

Especially in large Quiet (Urban) Areas the noise in the QUA is not homogeneous which means that the noise alters depending on the location in the QUA. Near major roads, railways or enterprises the noise is higher than in the centre of the QUA. In order to realise a good approach (e.g. selection, delimitation, management) it is recommend to split the whole area in smaller areas, often called sub-areas.

How to keep a Quiet Urban Area quiet?

There are many ways to keep a Quiet (Area) Quiet.  This can be done by curbing out all mechanical noise caused by mopeds, motor cycles, scooters in that specific area. By creating a zone around the QUA, that creates distance from the noise sources, the QUA can be protected form noise coming form sources outside the QUA. This is called an embedded QUA.

By means of warnings and instructions on signs near the entrances of the QUA visitors can be asked to behave quiet, not shouting, no radios, et cetera.

Interventions in the park by adding sound that masks the noise from outside can also be a measure that could be applied. This can be natural noise like a fountain, more trees (leaves) or an aviary with singing birds. Doing so people will experience the noise as more pleasant despite the high or relative high noise levels. It can also be done by creating a playground for children which guarantee non-mechanical noise as well.

In some case a quiet areas can be converted in a sonic garden with noise originated by transducers that can  mask or even drown the noise from outside the QUA.. The sound produced by these transducers can be all kind of noise like music, natural noise, et cetera.

A very last way to keep the QUA quiet is by means of management of the external noise. Traffic is still increasing and to compensate the extra noise that is generated by the traffic interventions could be designed and employed like quiet road surfaces, speed reduction, traffic smoothing, noise barriers, et cetera. When enterprises settle on or near a Quiet Urban Area strict limit values could be applied in the environmental permits or standard rules.

How to make a potential Quiet Urban Area quiet?

This can be done by applying measures as mentioned above reducing the internal and external noise in QUA’s..

 Is sound the only factor that makes a QUA attractive?

Besides sound there are other factors that seem to be very important for visitors of a QUA. These factors are accessibility, presence of natural elements, presence of facilities like benches, sport equipment, presence of visual elements, safety, cleanness and well kept. The latter two factors can be related to the so called Broken Windows Theory (Wilson and Kelling). This theory presumes that a poorly maintained  area elicits anti-social behaviour. This anti-social behaviour could also result noisy behaviour of visitors or passerby’s in the QUA. So keeping the Quiet (Urban) Areas well kept and clean should be seen as a prerequisite to keep the QUA attractive and quiet!



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