In 2006, research conducted by the University of Salford determined the worst noise in the world is the sound of vomiting. I can tell you what ranks pretty high up there for me — it’s the retching of straight pipes on an obnoxious bike churning down my quiet street.
Noise is a fact of life in the city. A particularly aggravating sound, however, is rude exhaust systems on intentionally modified vehicles. Although trucks and cars are regular culprits, motorcycles are especially hated, evidenced by the sheer volume of complaints officials receive about their noise. The truth is even loud bikes could be less disruptive if driven respectfully within communities. But the social plea for bikers to show restraint has fallen on deaf ears.
The problem is the bikers’ disregard for the people who are forced to listen to them roar through the community. Motorcycles aren’t the problem. It’s the rude interruption of noise, especially under the guise that “loud pipes save lives.”
Theoretically, loud pipes are installed so drivers will pay attention to the bike, but isn’t the biker also supposed to be paying attention to the car? What if the car isn’t making noise? Should drivers start randomly honking their horns throughout residential streets so people know they’re there?
The claim that noisy bikes are safer is not supported by actual research nor endorsed by any respected motorcycle association. It is also ridiculous when considering that accelerating one’s body in open air to speeds exceeding 100 km/h while zigzagging between hundreds of vehicles driven by distracted drivers is an incredibly risky act in and of itself. Besides, when was the last time you saw a roaring trumpet rider wearing a yellow safety vest?
There’s also a consideration that loud pipes increase the vehicle’s performance. It makes complete sense to spend $1,000 on pipes so you can save $100 on gas in the next 10 years.
Beyond this, the reasoning of why bikes are loud is of no consequence. Riders have simply decided their need for attention is more important than others’ needs for peace. The issue is not about safety or performance. It’s about common courtesy. If motorcyclists kept their bikes controlled within the quieter residential neighbourhoods, there would be no argument. But the fact is some of them don’t. Some bikers take their own personal ego trips down our streets, loudly and proudly interrupting the lives of hundreds of families around them because they feel entitled to it.
Shortly Edmonton will be taking the lead in initiating enforcement of a bylaw to address vehicle noise. The amendments to the bylaw will mean Edmonton police can use their new toy: an instrument developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers that will accurately measure readings from motorcycles against federal standards. Exceeding thresholds will result in $250 fines. Limits are 92 decibels at idle (similar to a lawn mower or tractor), 96 decibels at 2,000 rpm (similar to an electric drill or jack hammer), or 100 at 5,000 rpm (similar to a blender — something to remember if I ever want to mix a smoothie in my front street).
The reason why motorcycles are the only vehicles targeted so far is because the noise meter has only been tested on motorcycles, but the ability to monitor all vehicles is around the corner. Edmonton has been receiving calls from municipalities across Canada and the United States that are interested in seeing how it works out. St. Albert can take some time observing Edmonton as they navigate through the curves of this new legislation, but it is imperative this city follows close behind. All the talk about pollution must remember our ears and safe neighbourhoods.
So get your motor running and head out on the highway, because your squealing hog is not welcome in the municipality of Edmonton and if you ask the general population of St. Albert, it isn’t welcome here either.
To read some great comments posted on The St. Albert Gazette website from this article, click here.
St. Albert Gazette | Jun 23, 2010 06:00 am | Dee-Ann Schwanke
(Dee-Ann Schwanke thinks the only thing more annoying than a loud bike is an unleashed dog riding a loud bike.)