New Dutch 'Singing Road' Removed After Villagers Label Noise 'Psychological Torture'

Illustration for article titled New Dutch 'Singing Road' Removed After Villagers Label Noise 'Psychological Torture'
Screenshot: Reuters (via The New York Times)

Despite the multiple embarrassingly failed attempts to get Honda’s Singing Road right, a village in the Netherlands tried to find a cultural solution to distracted driving by installing musical rumble strips along a roadway. It only took villagers a couple of days to demand the noise be stopped, labeling it “psychological torture.”


Here’s the genesis of the idea, via The New York Times:

Local officials hoped the strips would encourage drivers to stick to the speed limit. In addition, Ms. Poepjes said, “Since we’re the cultural capital, we said, ‘Let’s make a cultural event of it.’”

The coastal province of Friesland, while part of the Netherlands, has its own language. “We don’t speak Dutch; we speak Frisian,” Ms. Poepjes said. “So that’s why we gained the title of cultural capital in 2018, and we wanted to highlight that.”

Working overnight last Friday, road crews painted about 490 feet of a newly paved, 124-mile stretch of the road with the strips.

Ms. Poepjes said music from “a popular part” of the regional anthem, “De Alde Friezen,” or “The Old Frisians,” from the 19th century, had been painted on. The project cost 80,000 euros, or about $99,000.

Signs told drivers, “You are approaching a singing road.” When drivers hit 60 kilometers per hour, about 38 m.p.h., the regional anthem rang loud and clear.

The locals weren’t too thrilled about the songified cultural installment, and it didn’t take long for the road to torment their everyday life. Villagers complained that they weren’t able to sleep at night, one labelled it “psychological torture,” and one claimed that they preferred the sound of fighter jets coming and going from the local airbase because, “at least they stop at 5 p.m.”

Sietske Poepjes, Vice Governor of the Friesland Province, visited the residents to hear the complaints, only to learn that the stunt had caused some motorists to intentionally speed up and aim for the song lines, not go the speed limit.

Poepjes conceded that the project was a failure, and the noise-making paint lines were stripped off the road Wednesday night, just two days after being installed.

According to the Times, the idea isn’t completely dead yet. Officials are still interested in installing similar, uh, cultural road instruments elsewhere. They’re just going to solicit public opinion before, and not after, this time.


Correction: This post was live for approximately one minute with “Norway” instead of “the Netherlands” in the opening paragraph, but has been corrected. We’re super sorry.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik



This one never gets old...