|The red line to the West of the city is the motorway. That|
which runs from the South to the North East is the railway.
Another blog posts shows the noise levels at the location
of the upper blue cross
The red cross on the noise map of Assen is the position of noise barriers featured before on the blog. The blue crosses are where we've stood with people on Study Tours to demonstrate that while the A28 motorway (the main motor vehicle route North-South) is the noisiest road in the city, you can still be remarkably near to it without having to raise your voice to be heard. This is actually a remarkable difference from the thunderous roar which is normal for people living near some British motorways, though as you can see on the map, they are still a greater source of noise than anything else.
However, noise is also used in another way. While motorways have been made quiet, many residential streets do not have these super smooth quiet surfaces. Many of them have rather rough cobbled surfaces as shown in this photo. It's traditional, and looks really nice.
Such a surface is also noisy to drive a car on. I have never seen anyone say that it is deliberately kept this way, but it is interesting that in the Netherlands if you go on a long journey in a car then the road noise inside the car is relatively low compared with the noise inside when you come off the motorway and drive much slower on residential roads. The opposite problem occurs in other countries, and is sometimes pointed out as a reason why drivers might speed when they come off the motorway - because they've become used to the noise level while driving faster.
These cobbled streets are often on cycle routes. Cycle routes on roads frequently don't follow the same line as car routes. Rather, these "shared" roads have very few cars on them, because the roads have 30 km/h speed limits and the direct through route is only usable by bike or on foot. Often one way restrictions applying only to motorized vehicles are used to make sure that a cyclist using a back street won't see motorists competing to also use it as a through route. "Rat-running" is virtually eliminated.
Forcing drivers to take different routes to the direct routes taken by cyclists is a way of keeping cyclists safe from drivers without cycle paths.
However, because these cobbles are rough, they're not the best surface for cycling on. There is now a new type of cobble, as shown on this "bicycle road" in Assen (A "bicycle road" formally allows cycles in preference to drivers).
These special square edged cobbles have the aesthetic of the traditional type, but they give a smoother ride, nearly as smooth as asphalt or concrete. This bicycle road forms the most direct route into Assen from a new suburb (as seen here and here). The special cobbles are a little more expensive, but considered to be worth using because they keep the historic centre of the city looking good, while also giving cyclists a better than average, more comfortable, surface on which to ride.
In the past, cycle paths in the Netherlands were surfaced with cobbles, and sometimes these were not pleasant to ride over. Replacing older cycle paths is a continuous process and many have now been resurfaced. Modern surfaces are either very smooth asphalt, as in this photo, or concrete.
It's not uncommon for cycle paths alongside a road to have a smoother surface than the road itself. This is the case for a good part of the route between here and Groningen, where the cycle path is concrete while the road is asphalt. The concrete surface offers not only smoother riding, but also lower rolling resistance and higher speeds for cyclists vs. riding on the road. You also see this done quite deliberately in the countryside.
I had always assumed that the cobbles were laid down by hand until I saw this (but having started here talking about noise pollution, I recommend that you turn your computer speakers down before playing this video):
The noise map comes from this remarkably comprehensive website about traffic noise.