News Item: Slobs on big, noisy hogs make life miserable
(Category: General News)
Posted by MJF
Wednesday 02 August 2006 - 11:29:28

The Edmonton Journal
by Scott McKeen
Published: Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Slobs ride hogs.

Slobs ride hogs that rattle windows, awaken children and scorch neighbourhoods with sonic waves of industrial thunder.

You blame the motorcycle for that hellacious, thumping roar? I blame the people on them. Narcissistic people. The kind of people who spit on sidewalks, butt into lineups and allow the door to slam in your face. In short, slobs.

I can't count the number of times I've been on Whyte Avenue and experienced the two-wheel equivalent of an F-18 flying under the street lamps. I've heard countless complaints from people in downtown highrises about revving, roaring motorcycles.



Frankly, I'm sick of it. There are civic bylaws and provincial laws against excessive noise. But noise is considered a nuisance, not a crime. So the police enforce the laws when time and circumstance allow it -- in other words, almost never.

In fairness, noise regulations, as written, are difficult to enforce. And the fines under the Highway Traffic Act, at $115, are not much of a deterrent. Maybe it's time to change those laws.

According to the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council, Transport Canada sets noise limits on motorcycle manufacturers at a reasonable 82 decibels.

But a University of Florida study tested a random sample of street bikes and found half were capable of 100 decibels. One bike hit 119 decibels. To put that in perspective, the ear-splitting volumes at Rexall Place during the Oilers' playoff run, with nearly 17,000 screaming fans, peaked at about 116 decibels.

Motorcycles get even noisier when they're modified with aftermarket exhaust systems. Worse yet are the hack handymen who remove the guts of the stock mufflers, turning their bikes into moving heavy metal concerts.

Some guys claim noise makes their motorcycles safer. There's an old saying in the biker community: loud pipes save lives. The adage is just an excuse for selfish stupidity.

Flemming Kristensen, the chief motorcycle instructor with the Alberta Safety Council, says there's no advantage to noise. Being visible is important to safety. Being audible? Nope. You don't hear a loud bike coming, you hear it leaving. Too late by then.

Motorcycle rider groups are not silent on this issue.

The American Motorcyclist Association, for example, has long opposed excessively noisy motorcycles.

The association realizes that if the biker community doesn't voluntarily reduce noise levels, governments will step in. Already, a number of U.S. cities have proposed motorcycle bans because of excessive noise.

Hob Murphy, the proprietor of Heritage Harley-Davidson in Edmonton, has been tackling the noise issue for years by talking to staff and clients. His firm does not sell loud aftermarket exhaust systems.

Harley-Davidson, the company, is taking a progressive position against noise, too, says Murphy. Harleys get blamed for being the noisiest bikes of them all. But the company's earliest advertising, at the turn of the 20th century, used the slogan Silent Grey Fellow.

Motorcycle gangs changed the image of Harleys. Riding a hog made you an outlaw. And how do you act like an outlaw now, if you don't wear gang colours? Scrap the mufflers. Go loud.

To be fair, Harley-Davidson gets a bad rap. Japanese and European manufacturers make motorcycles with earth-shaking V-twin engines, too. Their riders modify their bikes, too.

The key, says Murphy, is in educating motorcyclists on the nuisance factor. Good idea. But I'd go further. We need to tell owners of loud, modified bikes the ugly truth. You, sir, look like a buffoon to us. You are a slob on a hog.

For the record, I'm not against motorcycles. Most riders are good people. I spent a recent Saturday afternoon cruising on the back of a friend's new motorcycle. Loved it.

Some other friends own Vespa scooters, which are just motorcycles for hipsters, lads and metrosexuals. But even some of them modify their exhaust systems. Sigh.

For the record, I am no fan of regulating people to death. Freedom is precious. But when people abuse those freedoms, we are forced to consider limits.

The world is changing. We pack more and more people into close, urban spaces. To get along, people must respect the needs of others.

If not, communities will rise up. Laws will change. Fines will increase. Motorcycles will be seized.

You've been warned, slobs. Silence yourselves. Or you will be silenced.


smckeen©thejournal.canwest.com


© The Edmonton Journal 2006



This news item is from White Trash Networks
( http://www.bikernews.org/wtn/news.php?extend.990 )