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Yes it sounds like a Daily Mail headline although it should probably be the other way around if it was a DM article but there is a hidden or should I say silent issue here. 

 

Personally I am very happy with the reduction of polluting cars and motorbikes with the popularity of electric vehicles but I really think they should be fitted, as standard, with some sort of noise to alert people, cyclists and other road users they are there. Too many times now I have been scared the hell out of when a electric bike or car comes whizzing passed without a warning. It is bad enough when you can hear a car or bike revving in the distance getting closer but at least you know it is about to happen and can adjust you position/style.

Anyway just a thought I think is worth talking about before someone gets injured. Not a fan of noise pollution either really but I am sure there could be a balance.  

37 comments

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harragan [255 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes

My experience has been that there is very little noise from EVs when they are moving at slow speeds.  I've been surprised by a Prius in a car park more than once. 

When out on the open road, they make plenty of noise, a surprising amount, in fact.  This is through contact between the road surface and tyres.  Very recently I was aware of a car approaching from behind and as it passed me I realised it was a Nissan Leaf.  I'd heard it coming well before it was close by and the sound was virtually the same as a petrol car.

We've become used to motorised vehicles making a noise and many people don't bother to look as a result.  If you can't hear it, it's not there.  It may take time but we'll soon work it out that we have to use our eyes and ears to cross a road safely.  This way, it will also benefit cyclists - or should we have noises added to our bikes?

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SpikeBike [127 posts] 1 month ago
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harragan wrote:

or should we have noises added to our bikes?

 

Some may argue cyclists should however I would say I average 15/16mph wereas a electric car will zoom passed at twice that.

 

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aegisdesign [113 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

It's like that Garmin rear radar thingy. What are you supposed to do with the information that there is a car behind you?

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kil0ran [1184 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

I think its a question on relying on all your senses - you can see something before you hear it and I certainly listen on approach to blind junctions. Of course that doesn't account for other cyclists so it's still a case of approaching with caution. I think over 20mph road noise from tyres is loud enough, particularly in quiter environments. There's bloke with a monster eBike where I live and that thing sounds like turbo trainer as it goes past.

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CXR94Di2 [2284 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

We Have a 18 Leaf.  The car emits a sound below 30 mph to aid pedestrians and other users to hear it.  It is very quiet at slow speeds.  Once going 25mph+ tyre noise makes most of the noise like any car. 

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Yorkshire wallet [2321 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
CXR94Di2 wrote:

We Have a 18 Leaf.  The car emits a sound below 30 mph to aid pedestrians and other users to hear it.  It is very quiet at slow speeds.  Once going 25mph+ tyre noise makes most of the noise like any car. 

Can't you just wind your windows down and blast out some old school rave?

I got passed by Tesla one day and tyres are pretty noisy things at 60mph. 

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fenix [1108 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Can't say I've ever been surprised by an electric car - as has been said - its the road noise more than the engine noise.

 

I was surprised by the shadow of a double decker bus looming over me before I'd heard it. 

I think it was a combination of low sun, a hill and a headwind drowning out its engine. 

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fenix [1108 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Can't say I've ever been surprised by an electric car - as has been said - its the road noise more than the engine noise.

 

I was surprised by the shadow of a double decker bus looming over me before I'd heard it. 

I think it was a combination of low sun, a hill and a headwind drowning out its engine. 

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Duncann [1429 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Bloody Brussels bureaucracy!
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26857743

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cyclisto [409 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

The greatest threat for cyclists is imo vehicle's emissions and not the vehicle itself. Full electric cars will just terminate thia problem.

On the other hand, hearing is really useful to cyclists, I would feel really unsafe to ride with earphones. So yes a mild sound would be necessary, but even without it, battery only cars can greatly reduce the biggest threat we face daily

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hawkinspeter [2666 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

It's definitely something to be aware of so there's less of a surprise when suddenly being overtaken when you weren't aware that there was anyone behind you (also applies to other cyclists overtaking you).

In some ways, it highlights the issues that deaf cyclists face and the ultimate answer is to check behind more frequently (I'm a fan of using a tiny mirror for a brief look to see what's approaching).

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hawkinspeter [2666 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes
cyclisto wrote:

The greatest threat for cyclists is imo vehicle's emissions and not the vehicle itself. Full electric cars will just terminate thia problem. On the other hand, hearing is really useful to cyclists, I would feel really unsafe to ride with earphones. So yes a mild sound would be necessary, but even without it, battery only cars can greatly reduce the biggest threat we face daily

Coincidentally, I just happened upon this article from 2017 that explores the possible link between Alzheimer's and dirty air: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/01/brain-pollution-evidence-builds-...

I'd much rather have cleaner air and electric vehicles as the noise issue is easy to mitigate.

 

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BehindTheBikesheds [2513 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Electric cars are not in themselves that much better than an ICE vehicle, you can hear the noise from the tyres even at low speed.

The big problem with EVs is that they will take more space with charging points on streets and will still clog up the roads and it will only get worse. On street pollution may well go down but that won't change the killing and maiming, nor will it help with health of those only ever getting about without any effort.

EVs are a toxic non solution to our mobility problems that will cost massively more than people are being told as well as where all the electricty is going to come from.

https://www.driving.co.uk/news/electric-cars-will-clog-roads-next-three-...

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hirsute [496 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

as well as where all the electricty is going to come from.

Wind

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45873785

We have massive amounts of wind and tidal power in the UK that could be utilised with the political will.

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SpikeBike [127 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter]</p>

<p>[quote=cyclisto

wrote:

I'd much rather have cleaner air and electric vehicles as the noise issue is easy to mitigate.

 

 

Agreed. But with a small bit of thought we can have both.

 

It's not just the cars. The electric mopeds are absolutely silent in my experience. 

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ktache [991 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

Teslas are proper noisy. 

Seem to be drive by former BMW and Audi owners too.

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Yorkshire wallet [2321 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

I'd happily drive an electric if just played awesome engine noises if you wanted it to. BRM V16! Renault do something like that already so you can pretend you're driving an Alpine or whatever. 

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risoto [85 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

The problem with electrical bikes is that passing cars expect the bike to go at a slower, normal, speed for a bike. Bikers riding electrical bikes have by far the highest death and injury incidence. They are dangerous.

I almost killed a lady last year. I had overtaken her but when I had to make a left  turn, in my car, half a mile later she was next to me whizzing by at 20 miles an hour while I had to slow down as I approached the shopping center. Luckily I am very careful when making turns so I could stop the car.

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ChrisB200SX [854 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

I drive an electric car now. There is no reason it should have to make artificial noise in the same way I don't have to make artificial noise on my bike or when I'm running, or even walking.

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imajez [110 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I drive an electric car now. There is no reason it should have to make artificial noise in the same way I don't have to make artificial noise on my bike or when I'm running, or even walking.

That's because hitting someone or something with a car wil probably kill them. There are huge numbers of people [and animals] killed by vehicles as it is now. If they are quieter this probelm will only increase as sometimes you hear engine before you see them. Expect cat's 9 lives to be taken out a lot faster.
I've seen so many dead critters on my last few rides. Including a deer on last one. Then there are the people who walk their dogs on country lanes.

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srchar [1075 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
risoto wrote:

The problem with electrical bikes is that passing cars expect the bike to go at a slower, normal, speed for a bike. Bikers riding electrical bikes have by far the highest death and injury incidence. They are dangerous.

I almost killed a lady last year. I had overtaken her but when I had to make a left  turn, in my car, half a mile later she was next to me whizzing by at 20 miles an hour while I had to slow down as I approached the shopping center. Luckily I am very careful when making turns so I could stop the car.

Nothing to do with eBikes. Road bikes can average 20mph quite easily; it's hardly "whizzing". You sure that overtake was sensible?

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hirsute [496 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
risoto wrote:

The problem with electrical bikes is that passing cars expect the bike to go at a slower, normal, speed for a bike. Bikers riding electrical bikes have by far the highest death and injury incidence. They are dangerous.

I almost killed a lady last year. I had overtaken her but when I had to make a left  turn, in my car, half a mile later she was next to me whizzing by at 20 miles an hour while I had to slow down as I approached the shopping center. Luckily I am very careful when making turns so I could stop the car.

Ebikes are limited to 15mph in the UK.

Which country are you refering to for your post?

20 mph speedo is hardly fast for a normal bike.

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brooksby [3769 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I drive an electric car now. There is no reason it should have to make artificial noise in the same way I don't have to make artificial noise on my bike or when I'm running, or even walking.

Except that, as is often pointed out on this very site, its not comparable: green power or not, an electric car is two tonnes of metal and plastic and moves (usually) a lot faster than a bike or a pedestrian and is a greater risk.

Personally, I think the Cylon swoosh-swoosh noise would be good  yes

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andyp [1598 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Surely a total non-issue as long as you use your eyes before changing lane, which you should be doing already, right? If someone is going to deliberately drive into you, they're going to do it whether they're quiet or loud about it...

 

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Beatnik69 [419 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Many modern petrol engines are very quiet. I've been surprised a few times, when glancing over my shoulder, to see a car behind me. The same goes for the new electric Glider buses that have been recently introduced in Belfast. There have been times where I've thought a bus has been about to overtake me only to see a Range Rover go past. The tyre noise from them is astounding.

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John Smith [154 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I drive an electric car now. There is no reason it should have to make artificial noise in the same way I don't have to make artificial noise on my bike or when I'm running, or even walking.

Except that, as is often pointed out on this very site, its not comparable: green power or not, an electric car is two tonnes of metal and plastic and moves (usually) a lot faster than a bike or a pedestrian and is a greater risk.

Personally, I think the Cylon swoosh-swoosh noise would be good  yes

And they are a lot bigger and make much more road noise. I have never had any issues not seeing cars when riding a motorbike, with a helmet on and ear plugs in, you just need to make sure you do proper checks and be aware of what is around you.

We can't really go using this excuse and then expect drivers to not want to use it. Years of telling drivers to look for cyclists then complaining about cars being silent would be hypocritical. Not to mention the fact that the majority of noise on most mid-range (i.e. not anything fast and loud or cheap with a rough engine and poor sound deadening) cars at road speed is tyre noise, not the engine, at least from the front.

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FluffyKittenofT... [2272 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Electric cars are not in themselves that much better than an ICE vehicle, you can hear the noise from the tyres even at low speed.

The big problem with EVs is that they will take more space with charging points on streets and will still clog up the roads and it will only get worse. On street pollution may well go down but that won't change the killing and maiming, nor will it help with health of those only ever getting about without any effort.

EVs are a toxic non solution to our mobility problems that will cost massively more than people are being told as well as where all the electricty is going to come from.

https://www.driving.co.uk/news/electric-cars-will-clog-roads-next-three-...

 

Half-agree.  They are far from a complete solution, but that on-street pollution is a huge issue - it actually enrages me, given the extremely polluted roads I have to travel regularly - these guys are behaving as if the streets belong to them, getting in my way, bullying me, _and_ they are poisoning me as they do so!

 

I still haven't forgiven them for the huge quantity of lead I breathed in as a child. 

 

And the argument that lead in petrol may have contributed to the spike in violent crime across the developed world during the '90s is not as wild as it sounds...if in my dotage I go on a violent anti-car rampage you can blame all that lead in my brain and bones (apparently the stuff that accumulated in your bones gets released as your age and screws with your brain all over again!).

 

If electric cars solve that one problem of local pollution that will be a big improvement.   Admittedly I'm yet to be convinced they will ever become the norm, but they seem a much more viable tech than those self-driving cars.

 

The other problems of motoriing require other solutions.

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bamboo [20 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Can we address the real issue - those pesky pedestrians, they are really whisper quiet. They are a real danger to cyclists - coming from nowhere suddenly stepping into the road. I find it hard to believe that there is no law yet introducing mandatory noise devices for them - I am thinking a tuba for each one with mandatory playing of such as soon as another road participant approaches. I think I'll set up a petition!

 

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SpikeBike [127 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
bamboo wrote:

Can we address the real issue - those pesky pedestrians, they are really whisper quiet. They are a real danger to cyclists - coming from nowhere suddenly stepping into the road. I find it hard to believe that there is no law yet introducing mandatory noise devices for them - I am thinking a tuba for each one with mandatory playing of such as soon as another road participant approaches. I think I'll set up a petition!

 

 

I can spot a bozo chatting on their phone looking the wrong way and stepping out into the road a mile away. I cannot hear an electric car approching me from behind. I get what people are saying about tyre road nice being more important. Maybe I should say you get less warning with EV compared to normal cars.

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OldRidgeback [3022 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

There is a report from Japan highlighting the high numbers of incidents involving pedestrians and hybrid cars (operating at low speeds in EV mode) or electric cars. The elderly or partially sighted are particuarly at risk.

There is a move for electric cars to be fitted with noise generators as standard within the EU. Yes people will have to be more aware because they are quieter. And drivers of EVs will have to be more aware that vulnerable road users may not hear them.

In general EVs are a great thing. But there are drawbacks and the low noise does have a safety shortcoming. Don't get me started on lithium mining for the batteries.

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