Influence of Personal Factors on Sound Perception and Overall Experience in Urban Green Areas. A case study of a cycling path highly exposed to road traffic noise

Authors: Francesco Aletta, Timothy Van Renterghem, Dick Botteldooren

In contemporary urban design, green public areas play a vital role. They have great societal value, but if exposed to undue environmental noise their restorative potential might be compromised. On the other hand, research has shown that the presence of greenery can moderate noise annoyance in areas with high sound levels, while personal factors are expected to play an important role too.

A cycling path bordered by vegetation, but highly exposed to road traffic noise, was here considered as a case study. A sound perception survey was submitted to participants on site and they were subsequently sorted into groups according to their noise sensitivity, visual attention and attitude towards greenery.

The aim of this study was testing whether these three personal factors could affect their noise perception and overall experience of the place. Results showed that people highly sensitive to noise and more sceptical towards greenery’s potential as an environmental moderator reported worse soundscape quality, while visually attentive people reported better quality. These three personal factors were found to be statistically independent. This study shows that several person-related factors impact the assessment of the sound environment in green areas. Although the majority of the respondents benefit from the presence of visual green, policy-makers and planners should be aware that for a significant subset of the population, it should be accompanied by a tranquil soundscape to be fully appreciated.

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Aletta, F., Van Renterghem, T., & Botteldooren, D. (2018). Influence of Personal Factors on Sound Perception and Overall Experience in Urban Green Areas. A Case Study of a Cycling Path Highly Exposed to Road Traffic Noise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(6), 1118. doi:10.3390/ijerph15061118

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