Thursday, May 31, 2012


Spring has sprung along Old Kings Highway and with it the annual infestation by pesky invasive species such as winter-moth caterpillars and straight-pipe motorcyclists.

Is there anything less conducive to our enjoyment of the peace and quiet of a beautiful Cape Cod Sunday than the earsplitting racket of illegally modified bikes ridden by otherwise law-abiding citizens who somehow morph into Sons of Anarchy wannabes on weekends?

Safety issues aside, no reasonable person seriously objects to recreational bikers cruising on machines with regulatory-compliant mufflers, whereas ripping out baffles or otherwise modifying exhaust systems in order to achieve a gratifyingly loud staccato roar is heedlessly self-indulgent. The manager of a Boston Harley dealership has estimated that up to 70% of the bikes he sells are subsequently so modified.

Assertions by adherents of loud pipes that such noise protects their all-too-vulnerable vehicles from being unheard and thereby overrun in traffic, appear to be anecdotal-only and are not supported by independent research.

Surely, 6A abutters are not the only Commonwealth community afflicted by this problem, one which could so readily be ameliorated by more assiduous law enforcement.

Well aware that excessive noise creates PR problems for the sport, the 232,000-member American Motorcyclist Association recommends that:
  • All motorcyclists should be sensitive to community standards and respect the rights of fellow     citizens to enjoy a peaceful environment.
  • Motorcyclists should not modify exhaust systems in a way that will increase sound to an offensive level.
  • Organizers of motorcycle events should take steps through advertising, peer pressure and enforcement to make excessively loud motorcycles unwelcome.
  • Motorcycle retailers should discourage the installation and use of excessively loud replacement exhaust systems.
  • The motorcycle industry, including aftermarket suppliers of replacement exhaust systems, should adopt responsible product design and marketing policies aimed at limiting the cumulative impact of excessive motorcycle noise.
  • Manufacturers producing motorcycles to appropriate federal standards should continue to educate their dealers and customers that louder exhaust systems do not necessarily improve the performance of a motorcycle.
  • Law enforcement agencies should fairly and consistently enforce appropriate laws and ordinances against excessive vehicle noise.

To all of which this writer appends a loud Amen.

Note: This post was originally published as an op-ed item in the Cape Cod Times

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