A categorization method applied to the study of urban road traffic noise

J Acoust Soc Am. 2005 May;117(5):2844-52. doi: 10.1121/1.1889437.


The present work summarizes a study of the hypothesis that urban noise can be stratified by measuring street noise according to a prior classification of a town's streets according to their use in communicating the different zones of the town. The method was applied to five medium-sized Spanish towns (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Salamanca, Badajoz, Cáceres, and Mérida) with populations ranging from 218 000 down to 50000 and with different socio-economic characteristics, climate, etc. As the initial hypothesis of the work was that traffic is the main source of urban noise and is also the principal cause of the variability of the sound levels measured in urban settings, the study focused only on the five nonpedestrian categories of streets. The continuous equivalent sound level (Leq) was employed in the statistical analysis as it is commonly used as a general noise index, and other noise indicators such as L(DN) or L(DEN) are calculated from it. It was found that, although differences between the medians were not statistically significant in some of the towns for certain pairs of adjacent categories, the differences between pairs of nonadjacent categories were always significant, indicative of the stratification of noise in these five towns. Further studies on other medium-sized towns and on large towns and small villages would be needed to test whether the present definition of street categories is extensible elsewhere without modification.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics / instrumentation*
  • Cities*
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Noise*
  • Reproducibility of Results