|Loud Valves Save Lives t-shirt.|
I recently had reason to think it might be so.
My wife and I were walking in our neighborhood when I noticed a bit of litter in the bicycle lane adjacent to the sidewalk. I leaned over to pick it up and nearly had my head taken off by a rider on an electric bicycle.
The rider came "out of nowhere" over the hump of a bridge, and moving the "wrong way" against traffic. I was watching the other direction.
Even so, if it had been moving no faster than a bicycle I would have seen it before I entered the bike lane; but it was much faster and, of course, it was almost completely silent.
I've always dismissed the "loud pipes save lives" argument as wishful thinking. Drivers behind the motorcycle (and thus no threat) will hear it but those ahead likely won't hear my exhaust note before they run into me.
What I had never considered was that pedestrians too depend in part on their hearing to sense danger.
As silent electric cars, electric bicycles and now even electric motorcycles become more common, those of us who occasionally walk may miss the noise provided by internal combustion.