‘Absurd’ arguments for loud motorcycles

Photo credit: Djordje Petrovic

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Now that the weather is warmer, John Ducker reminds us in this recent Times Colonist article that we will be hearing more noisy motorcycles. However, he adds that to the motorcycle rider, the bike noise is not disturbing. Rather, he believes that some bikers view the loudness of the bike as something that makes them feel proud. As one watches a motorcyclist rush down the street, this impression seems to be warranted. Ducker adds that some riders feel the bikes make them safer because others will be more aware of them.  

I believe that many readers will agree with Ducker that the right to be “loud and proud” is fine until one realizes that this right intrudes on the rights of so many people who do not wish to be inundated with noise in public spaces. He also dismisses the premise that loudness protects riders because when bikes are making noise, riders might not hear emergency signals or car horns. Let us also wonder whether motorcyclists are wearing hearing protection.  

British Columbia recognizes the harmful impacts of loud motorcycles, and set a 91 decibel limit on the sounds. It also has regulations that prohibit modifying exhaust pipes. We do have to consider that enforcement of these rules is not always effective or straightforward. We learn in this article that about 20 years ago, Calgary developed a device to take pictures of loud vehicles. Unfortunately, the bylaw overseeing the device was dropped when it failed to define how close or far away a vehicle was to the device assessing the sound level. This device sounds very similar to the noise cameras that are being tested in cities around the world. We will have to follow the use of noise cameras as a deterrent to loud vehicles to determine how successful they are in quieting the roads.

This article also focuses on the risk posed to construction workers who care for the road. Ducker said he hopes bylaws to protect these workers will be enforced, as the upcoming summer in the city of Surrey will include a wealth of construction. We are indeed entitled to a quieter and healthier outdoors.

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