All of us have experienced the rude roar of loud motorcycles in and around our neighborhood. They set off car alarms, inconsiderately wake people up, stop us mid-sentence during conversation and thrust their noise, unwelcome, into our lives.

The cycles of which we speak are the Harley Davidson type. As far as the owner feels, the louder the better, which is why they install the illegal straight-type pipes. These pipes allow the air to forcefully exit the bike, thus causing a loud roar. The legal pipes have bends to slow the air from coming out, as a result quieting them. Some motorcyclists unrealistically maintain that, by calling attention to their vehicles within the traffic mix, “Loud pipes save lives.”

According to the National Noise Clearinghouse (NPC), there is absolutely no research to prove this statement. There is, however, a lot of research regarding the cause of motorcycle fatalities. Motorcycles have a fatality rate that is 18 times that of cars because of four main reasons:
•Motorcyclists choose to drive vehicles that provide absolutely no protection when in a crash. Seatbelts save 10,000 lives each year; airbags an additional 1,000 (USDOT Transportation Statistics Annual Report 1999). Motorcycles have neither a protective frame around the driver nor a restraint system.
• 39% of motorcycle operators in fatal crashes had alcohol in their blood, and 28% were intoxicated (USDOT Traffic Safety Facts 2000).
• 38% of motorcycle operators in fatal crashes were speeding (USDOT Traffic Safety Facts 2000).
• Motorcycle helmets could save 1,000 lives a year (USDOT Traffic Safety Facts 2000). At Harley Davidson online, they sell these loud tailpipes. One type is aptly called the
“Screaming Eagle”, of which the company proudly claims, “This muffler will add a deep rumble. No other motorcycle has the same heart pounding, pavement-thumping sound as the venerable Harley® V-Twin. It is a sound that has spanned generations, and it is as distinct as the people who ride.” Why is this company touting the fact that the sound bothers other people? It seems a case of bullies
grown up.

Noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the 28 million people with impaired hearing in the United States. How loud must sounds be to harm our children’s and our own hearing? Noise is measured on a decibel scale, or dBA. Exposure over time to sounds that exceed 85 dBA can be potentially damaging.

A leaf blower measures at 110 dBA while the motorcycles in question are 130 dBA’s and up.

Around Juniper Valley Park there have been many instances of bikers doing wheelies, in the presence of Police Officers who do not ticket them or warn them to stop. Several months ago there was an unfortunate death of a teen on a motorcycle who was traveling fast on the same strip. Unbelievably, we also see bikers without helmets and sometimes even kids on the back without helmets. So, now the cyclists are not only putting themselves in danger, but others as well.

In the city of Salem, Massachusetts, a civic association has gone as far as issuing an online petition that protects their citizens from the unruly noise from motorcycles. It was signed by so many concerned people that their local police precinct was forced to act upon the law and ticket these loud cycle riders.

In and itself, the main problem is the noise. It’s a quality of life problem that needs to be addressed. It shouldn’t be hard to stop either; even us non-cops can plainly see the bright silver, racket causing pipes when they ride by. All we need is officers from the 104 to enforce the law and ticket them. It’s a fact that Harley provides bikes to officers in New York – could that be why they aren’t ticketed?

Neighbors have suggested to me that they give the 104th Precinct addresses of the bikers (who live in our community) so that officers can wait until they leave and ticket them. It may work because the 104th is famously behind schedule in answering 911 (and now 311) calls, so when they arrive at the scene, the bikes are long gone. But the problem then would be accountability.

In the end, whatever kind of lifestyle someone leads is his or her own business, but when you force it onto someone else it becomes a quality of life issue that needs to be dealt with. After all, I am sure these same “look at me” types, with their loud cycles and loud music would hate to have their sleep interrupted by an inconsiderate neighbor.

At press time, the 104th Precinct has not returned repeated phone calls asking how many tickets they have given out for motorcycle noise. Thanks to for research information.