Tackling weekend noise

Ear defenders

I write in support of those raising concerns about current – and particularly weekend  – traffic noise levels in Rye.

My wife and I were fortunate when retiring to Rye two years ago to arrive with normal hearing – despite in my case having largely spent my working life in professional audio environments (recording studio, film dubbing and mixing facilities etc.). My hearing was preserved largely because I wore ear-defenders when obliged to work in dangerous noise environments.

Traffic noise in the streets of the town makes me wish to reclaim my ear defenders.

In particular the noise from motor-cycles which have been modified to exceed their manufacturers’ exhaust noise specifications and are often ridden in a manner that deliberately emphasizes the noise footprint.

Ironically the danger to riders’ hearing is less than to pedestrians, owing to the high-frequency hearing protection afforded by the obligatory wearing of crash helmets.

As most of us know to our cost, ubiquitous roadside and robotic speed recording and parking zone control technology photographically records us when we infringe regulations, automatically identifies us and issues penalties.

Similar roadside technology exists which can automatically measure the noise level of passing traffic. When noise nuisance exceeds levels permitted by statute, a photo of the registration mark can be taken and passed to the authorities.

It is surely time for Rye to warn that this technology will be installed and then to action it without delay!

Image Credits: Mimzy / Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/earmuffs-noise-cancelling-headphones-2755553/.


  1. I agree with David Hawkins. Noise pollution seems to have replaced air pollution in some respects. Some people find ‘noise’ attractive and kids on scooters rev their two wheeled lawn mowers like TT riders. France is plagued by swarms of teens on Mobylets, a swarm of angry wasps riding in endless circles around villages. The problem is just budding for us and it should be nipped, before it gets worse.

  2. I totally agree with the above comments on the problem of motorcycles. This appears to be even more pronounced since the easing of lockdown restrictions.
    The speed and noise that they generate coming through Peasmarsh on their route to Rye is totally unacceptable and also dangerous . I think action is needed before there is a tragic accident .

  3. Completely concur with this. Thank you for noting, “In particular the noise from motor-cycles which have been modified to exceed their manufacturers’ exhaust noise specifications and are often ridden in a manner that deliberately emphasizes the noise footprint.” In Germany altering exhaust specifications is illegal and drivers fined heavily, increasing with each incident to the point were licences are confiscated after (I believe) the fifth incident. So two issues, speed and excessive noise. Military Road has become particularly unpleasant over the past few weeks. So what can be done?

  4. I agree absolutely with the previous comments. Since moving to the High Street in Rye in 2005, noise pollution has worsened and become more intrusive. This is very damaging for local residents, both to their physical and emotional well being. Noise monitors would be a very good idea. Bikers traditionally come to Rye in a great army at weekends, which I find quite acceptable really. This is what they do. But the people who zoom about the countryside deliberately making as much noise as possible need to be stopped. Incidentally, while it will be great to see the George Hotel restored to its former glory, the lack of noise issuing from it on Wedding Nights has been a great relief! Wedding guests hanging out on the balcony, shouting in voices fuelled by drunkenness, chucking cigarette stubs into the street and having ‘fun’ with no regard at all for all the residents in the HighStreet, is noise pollution in itself. This has been known to continue until 1.am 2.am – even 4am on one occasion. Noise can be extremely damaging, we must wake up to this.

  5. This noise nuisance extends outward to Jury’s Gap, having moved here several months ago I realise what it’s like to live next to what is in fact a direct copy of Brands Hatch. I have complained to the environmental department at Rother council with little effect. Some bikers revel in making as much noise with a modified exhaust as possible.

    It is time for the police to clamp down.

    • A biker passed me today on the Military Road today probably speeding in excess of 120 mph. Try doing that on the M20

  6. I do sometimes wonder why people who wish to move to Rye,do not do their homework first, we are on a main trunk route along the south coast, and yes the locals who live on the main roads by choice moan including myself, Rye has become a major tourist town over the years,and iff we do not like it we can move,whether its bikers,juggernauts or boy racers it will not stop, maybe iff the nimbys had not stopped the bypass 30 years ago, Rye would have been a more pleasant place to live, if you want a Clovelly with only the noise of the sea waves, please be free to move,but otherwise before moaning about light pollution, noise from wedding venues, or pubs, i suggest some stop being selfish, and let others enjoy the delights of Rye, or as i have previously said,be free to move on

    • John Tolhurst
      What planet are you living on?
      The problem is NOISE POLLUTION.
      NOT traffic noise. A handful of immature adults use Rye as a race track. Round and round and round their blaring machines go round Rye.
      Are 5,000 + people never to enjoy a peaceful Sunday because of a small group?
      Get real.
      Why do we endure this?
      Joyce McLeman

      [This comment has been edited to meet our guidelines]

  7. So John Tolhurst you condone the constant breaking of laws i.e. speeding ,excessive noise?
    You are in the minority ,excessive noise from vehicle exhaust systems are not a necessity if we had a proper police presence we could at least make it a bit quieter without the need to hear a motorcycle advancing from 4 miles away! I’m afraid a bypass would not end this problem they would probably speed on that too ! So as previous commenters have mentioned something needs to be done ASAP

  8. I agree with the comments above regarding the “racers”. I am surprised that there are no accidents due to the excessive speed of these vehicles. You never see any police around to catch the lawbreakers. Also why Rye? There are no public conveniences etc. Perhaps car parks could be provided outside Rye and make them walk in!!
    Would speed cameras help? Heavy fines? Speed humps?

  9. It was interesting to read a Rye town councillor encouraging someone to come on board the Council, but too the new comers to the town,the bikers and the noise of them, has been going on for over a decade, and after the relative silence over the past couple of months, and then the easing of lockdown, it has come a rude awakening to some in the town.Blame who you like,but at the end of the day, the blame lies with past and present Councillors, who have failed to adress this problem.

    • The problem has escalated in the past year and your snipe at the Town Council is not justified. Councillor Palmer tried years ago to get the Environment Agency to close off the ‘ free carpark’ on the Strand but unsuccessful.

      Blame the Town Council, predictable.

  10. Many thanks to David Hawkins for his protest against noise pollution in Rye and to all those who wrote in his support. With regard to John Tolhurst’s dissenting comment, this is not the first time John has expressed his opinion that people in Rye who voice very valid concern about something happening there should (a) not have moved there in the first place and (b) clear off somewhere else. It’s that sort of support for letting people do what they want, however antisocial, that is ruining the environment.

  11. What does seem odd is that the bikers are the only ones who benefit from free parking close to food outlets and toilets in normal times, so why not head for Rye, it’s a no brainer that those in authority seem to have missed.
    Why would you head to Hastings and pay?
    Instead of sniping at each other you need to lobby those who can do something about it.

    • When I first joined the Town Council some twelve years ago I did indeed press for controls to be imposed regarding the bikers regular blasts through the villages and gathering at the Strand. The result? A very large whiteboard outside the Strand Café encouraging me to stand down and for the electorate to get rid of me!

  12. Forgive me if I am being dumb, but couldn’t there at least be a speed limit sign around Rye Hill / Military Road ? So many small towns and villages are 30mph zones all over East Sussex and Kent. Yet, cars, lorries and motorbikes seem to fly over the railway bridge on Rye Hill, and motorbikes use Rye Hill / Military Road as a race track. I’m not being a Nimby, I don’t object to bikers, etc. But there is a case for respecting each others environment and the historical nature of the area and its buildings.

  13. I might be wrong here but I thought there were 30mph signs on all the approach roads to Rye and of course unless the law has changed isn’t there a mandatory 30mph limit in a built up area unless otherwise stated.

  14. I walk up and down Rye Hill and the maximum speed permitted is 30mph. But it’s obvious that the speed that many motorcycles, cars, vans, even huge lorries actually travel is frequently far, far more than that, and this applies to uphill and downhill traffic. I’ve seen many instances where the closing speed between uphill and downhill vehicles is unquestionably above 100mph. It’s crazy; I’m not easily alarmed but it scares me witless sometimes. There are none of the type of repeater signs that you see on Winchelsea Road and, most important, no attempt at enforcement at all. I have written to the town council hoping that due approach can be made to the police, but, though I did receive a reply, it was not an encouraging one. Is there something else that I could do, apart from set up a booth and wave reminder signs at people?!

  15. Dear Bob Harper, I absolutely understand you being scared witless around Rye Hill. To try and cross the road to get over to Military Rd is not easy because of the speed of traffic in both directions, and due to the raised hump on the bridge you don’t see cars approaching until they are over the hump and it’s too late. You cannot walk on Rye Hill on the right side, going uphill approaching Military Road, because the pavement is so narrow you can literally have car wing mirrors brush your arm, so imagine how horrible it is having a lorry go past you at speed. Rye Road to the roundabout is also tricky because vehicles fly around corners too fast. Nothing flags up on my SatNav to say you’re in a 30mph area. So surely there needs to be a sign around Rye Hill / Military Road ? We have to accept all forms of traffic, but there really needs to be a speed reduction. Or will action only be taken after someone has been knocked down?

    • There was a fatal accident on Rye Hill a few years ago when a van mounted the pavement and struck a pedestrian. For this reason I always walk on the elevated east side of the road where possible.

      • Sounds awful. Only makes me more concerned. But even on the east side you’re not protected in vehicles are going too fast. You’re only safe on the bridge where they’ve built the extension away from the road. Why on earth didn’t the local council put up 30mph signs after the accident ?!

  16. Your recent articles on what you politely call Weekend Noise refer to the arrival in Rye in the last couple of weeks of the bikers who congregate on the banks of the river outside the Kettle of Fish. Not only do they meet, maskless, without any regard for the 2 metre rule, either outside the Kettle of Fish or the ice cream van that accompanies them, but they spend their time otherwise riding at great speed and without regard for the local population between Rye and Hastings. Few of them have any respect for speed limits or the impact the noise their machines make on the environment. Most of the bikers, I understand, come from London or other parts of the South East, areas in which the infection rate of the coronavirus is greater than it is locally. They present therefore not only their usual careless threat to the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside on Saturdays and Sundays, but a potential increase in the spread of the virus which has locally been fairly mild.

  17. I always enjoy John Tolhurst’s rather obscure comments. A bypass would have solved the problem of noise from bikers? The bypass, if he remembers, cut through the middle of town dividing it from the citadel and the rest of the town and was opposed by the people of Rye.

    The racket that spoils our tranquility has nothing to do with traffic, it’s to do with anti social bikers.

  18. Sussex Police operate a Community Speedwatch scheme. It’s ‘a national initiative where, in partnership with the police, members of communities use detection devices to monitor local vehicle speeds.’ More information on how to set one up can be found here: http://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/wsi/watch-schemes-initiatives/speedwatch/community-speedwatch/

    In regard to speed limit signs, if I remember rightly the Town Council (via the Highways Forum) agreed three years ago to erect white fences on the approach roads into Rye that warn drivers to slow down. You’ll see similar at the entrance of Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach. A question for the Town Clerk on their progress.


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