The scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
On the face of it, the singing road — or Zingende Weg — seems like such a cute, fun idea. Lay rumble strips into the road surface in such a fashion that when cars drive over them, it plays a little tune.
And so the Dutch province of Friesland went right ahead with the scheme. Local government determined this stretch of the N357, near Jelsum on the outskirts of Leeuwarden, would be the ideal spot. The idea was to promote Leeuwarden as the European Capital of Culture for 2018 (along with Valletta in Malta).
It spent €80,000 installing strips in the road that, if driven over at the local 60km/h (37mph) speed limit, would play the anthem of Friesland. Yes, it’s still April but no, this isn’t an April Fool.
All fine so far. It works rather well too; here’s a clip of what it sounds like in your car as you drive over it:
As you can see — or rather hear — the car picks up the tune very nicely. The anthem, De Alde Friezen (The Old Frisians) is light and fun.
But that’s just how it sounds inside one car, driving at the speed limit. On the outside it’s a rather different prospect:
Mmm, tuneful. As should have been obvious from the beginning, the road only works if one car at a time is driving over it. It’s also rather loud on the outside, so even without the discordant mess, it’s keeping local residents up at night. Considering the road runs past a military airbase, that’s no small din.
The tune also only works at the speed limit; just like those road signs that tell you how fast you’re going, the first thing most drivers do when they encounter them is to see just how fast they can go.
Jelsum resident Ria Jansma told Reuters that “the taxis were driving from Leeuwarden to Stiens and on the way back, they tried to go across the lines as quickly as possible and we had the anthem played all night at high speed.”
The road opened officially on Monday April 9. After local residents complained of “psychological torture”, the road closed again on Tuesday April 10. We suspect they’ll never want to hear De Alde Friezen again.