Bikers make themselves heard

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Motorcycle riders object to focus on bike noise

Of the 30 or so motorcycle riders gathered in front of St. John’s City Hall Tuesday evening, none said the city is without noise pollution. They just wanted to make it clear it is not just because of them.

“It seems like they’re targeting bikers, riders, motorcycle enthusiasts — whatever label they want to put on us this time,” said Burt Ash, who has been riding more than 30 years, when asked why he was there, with his bike parked among 20 others.

The bikes were lined up by

5:30 p.m. and their owners waited for city council to exit a regular meeting.

Motorcycles and noise pollution were not discussed in that meeting.

The presence of the bikers at city hall was loosely organized, led by rider Jody Warren. It was the culmination of two weeks of coffee shop debates, online message board discussions and “Open Line” rants, after the subject of loud bikes was raised in a council meeting in late August.

Perry Kendall, a part-time motorcycle safety instructor,  said he was at the gathering because he objects to “blanket statements” made against motorcycle riders. But he also said he disliked the focus being on motorcycles when discussing noise pollution in the city.

“They’re singling out motorcycles as the primary noise polluters and that’s not entirely accurate. There are a lot of other types of vehicles and devices, such as snowblowers, which create equal if not more amounts of noise pollution,” he said. Others added lawn mowers, car subwoofers and air brakes to that list. Some simply paused during interviews to gesture towards noisy vehicles passing by on New Gower Street.

Everyone who spoke with The Telegram said there were “problem” bikers in the mix.

“It’s only a handful of irresponsible motorcyclists that are making it bad for the vast majority, who are responsible motorcyclists,” Kendall said. “Ticket ’em. Leave the rest of us alone.”


Shawn Lawrence had his first Harley at age 15 and built bikes from scrap parts with his dad. He has been riding motorcycles for 55 years. He said term “after-market exhausts” has been used as an “easy out” in the discussions on noisy bikes in St. John’s, saying the add-ons don’t necessarily mark the bad apples.

He has after-market pipes.

“I can drive down Water Street any hour of the night or day and I don’t turn a head from the sidewalk — only somebody looking to say ‘look at that old fart driving a bike,’” he said, laughing. “There’s a handful of yahoos that cause problems on this street and Water Street in the evenings and they should be dealt with by the (existing) law.”

There were other calls for increased ticketing of “yahoos.”

“Whatever society you’re in, you’re going to come across a few idiots. But don’t let the idiots spoil it for the whole bunch,” said Langford Manderson.

“Whatever society you’re in, you’re going to come across a few idiots. But don’t let the idiots spoil it for the whole bunch.” Langford Manderson

Manderson is a regular highway rider and said he is concerned about the city pushing for the province to take action — specifically making changes to the Highway Traffic Act — that would affect riders all over Newfoundland and Labrador.

As the council meeting clewed up, Coun. Danny Breen, Coun. Tom Hann and Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary were encircled outside the front entrance.

“This is not a new issue. I’ve been on council for six years and every year this (noise) issue has come up. Every year we’ve asked the provincial government to go and do something about it and every year ‘it’s under study.’ Well, the study time is over,” Hann said in an exchange with one female motorcycle user.

The focus of the motorcyclists soon turned to O’Leary, who has been pegged as the representative for the issue. O’Leary also said the province needs to respond to the city’s repeated requests for a statement on the issue, or at least provide information from its studies.

The gathering at city hall is likely to help.

“The reality is nothing gets done unless there’s a bit of pressure,” she said.

Geographic location: Water Street

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Recent comments

  • LPSL
    September 11, 2011 - 07:00

    Ahhh I love this. The squares will complain about anything...hahaha. My bet is most of the complainers here are socially impared. Rather sit by the window and peek through the blinds when someone comes up the street. I have a guy like this on my street. We call him "The Mayor". Like was said before, there are already laws in place to deal with the "trouble makers". Why waste time and money to make it specific, same as the cell phone law. There was always a law there to deal with this, my grandfather got a ticket about 15 years ago for eating a ice cream while driving because he was driving with undue care and attention. The law won't change anything. ...if anything it will make it "cooler" because only the "bad bikers" will have loud pipes. Remember back when you were too young to drink or smoke how "cool" it was. Then when you turned legal age you couldn't be bothered....same thing. Both mine and my wifes bikes are loud as hell because we like it, our kids love it and it IS safer. I rather see a smile on my kids face as I ride off then make some cookie cutter minivan family happy on Kenmount Road as I saunter by doning 51 KM/H :) That darn school buss when it comes up my hill with the cooling fan kicked in really makes me mad and wakes me up every morning.....we need to do something about that too, but its doing a public service so the double standard is ok. I'm doing a public service too, I am reducing emissions by leaving my truck at home and taking my bike, mark me up for saving the enviroment. Anyway, now I want to go for a ride...... Peace. Oh, Kid Rock Rules

  • Patrick Conley
    September 08, 2011 - 08:50

    "Unnecessary noise", "Ignorance". All of you people with complaints about motorcycle noise are ignorant, and making unnecessary noise. Do any of you have any idea what it is like to ride a motorcycle? Do you ever encounter a situation in your car where you are cut off? A motorcycles sound is a safety feature! To let everyone else on the road know to be aware, that a motorcycle is coming by. Whether it be Car,truck,bus, bicyclist, or pedestrian. WE as motorcycle riders have the right to safety. I ride a 1986 Harley Davidson. It is loud, that makes me feel safe.If anyone is going to go deaf because of it, it will be ME! Before you speak think! LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES!

  • Frankie Venom
    September 08, 2011 - 06:04

    WIILYB ... don't be foolish. Those motorcyclists didn't go down to City Hall and intentionally "surround" Ms. O'Leary or any other Councillor. They exercised their democratic right to peaceful protest ... nothing more. Again sir, your "sensationalist remarks" are unfounded and nothing more than pot-stirring. If you don't like motorcycles and/or motorcyclists, fine ... but those people pay taxes too and also raise a LOT of money for local charities ... their grandfathers fought for the same rights that you enjoy ... so quit yer belly-aching ... motorcycles are not the problem; only a very small handful of irresponsible Riders ...

  • Banjaxed
    September 07, 2011 - 19:41

    I have never seen a biker ride a bike in the city , I just see 50 of them sit around their bikes at my local Tim Hortons talking about Bikes 7 days a week for 3 hours a night.My friend refer to them as the Apple Fritter Gang...lmao, All due respect I knw some biker budies and can stick up for them that they are good law abiding guys and I agree with them that there are just a few bad aplles out there.I have been startled many times by after market exhausts , but some of you are shooting yourselves in the foot , one biker went on record as saying , Lawn Mowers and Snow Blowers make just as much noise....maybe but I don't put a pipe on my lawn mower to increase the noise idiot. I am an avid guitar collector , own about 7000 dollars in guiairs that's not including 3000 in drum equipment for my son , one of the first thing I did when I moved in the neighborhood was to make sure I wasn't disturbing my neighbors and I have Amps as loud as your bikes But I stray from my story , but If I bought a guitar it is to play not sit around cooffee shops and down Double Doubles and smoke export A's and talk for 3 hours to other guitar players 7 nights a week....I would go MAD

  • Johnny Thunders
    September 07, 2011 - 18:21

    Dear "motorcycle enthusiasts" - Get your ears checked. If you think your bikes are not loud, you're obviously deaf as doorposts. Even the decibels of a hair dryer damages hearing after a while. Clue in and quiet down and be adults instead of spoiled children running in packs

  • Frankie Venom
    September 07, 2011 - 14:39

    WILLYB, your statement that our Councillors were being bullied by the motorcyclists at City Hall yesterday is just plain wrong, not to mention ignorant. I can assure you that no intimidation or bullying of any type took place at City Hall yesterday, none what so ever. Your comments were meant to stir negative sentiment towards motorcyclists and nothing more ...

    • willyb
      September 07, 2011 - 15:48

      @FRANKIE VENOM Explain yourself why is what I said wrong much less ignorant. I speak on the facts and the facts are a bunch of riders surrounded & confronted Councillors leaving work. The rally was meant to stir negativity towards Councillor O'leary and quite frankly she looked a little shaken Frankie. It's not the motorcyclists themselves unless they pull a stunt like they did yesterday which shows ignorance in that they feel this will help them in there fight to make a racket.

  • willyb
    September 07, 2011 - 13:34

    What was that on the news last night? a bunch of bullies waiting for the Councillor after a meeting or what.They went there to try and intimidate O'leary to back off that's quite obvious. Want to be heard buy an aftermarket "Horn" or if it is to dangerous to ride hang up your "Chaps". Hey dude when cops pull you in for a ticked and you say all the other cars were speeding he says but I'm Looking at you now cause you were fastest same thing here bikes are being looked at because they are the most annoying. After last nights display at City Hall I would have to say annoying Bullies. I am quite confident that Councillor O'leary will not be swayed by such a display of ignorance and will continue the fight to rid the City and Province of such irritating and "UNNECESSARY NOISE" and preserve the peace and tranquility that tax payers deserve.

  • Reality Check
    September 07, 2011 - 12:46

    Showing up with your bikes, waiting for councillors to emerge from the building then surrounding them demonstrate your state of mind. “Look at Me”. Alter your ride so that it creates a loud noise demonstrates your state of mind. “Look at Me”. Please remember YOU ARE NOT BIKERS…………………just people who ride bikes. Stop trying to pretend you are something you are not. Enjoy riding your quite bikes and let the rest of us enjoy peace. A survey or ballot should be sent to every household in St. John’s regarding this matter and let the Majority Rule.

  • L.K. Levesque
    September 07, 2011 - 11:39

    I find it amusing how a lot of the negative comments in here are most likely posted by non-riders. I happen to ride a Harley with after-market pipes (exhaust for the non riders) and they are not obnoxious to say the least. I'm also a father and a responsible tax paying citizen and certainly not a Kid-Rock wannabe (although he is pretty cool in my books!). At any rate, I believe all bikers agreee that those who hot dog and are a nuisance on a regular basis should be ticketed. We're not saying to cut s all some slack. We're merely pointing out the other obvious noise rackets that are far more higher on the decibel scale than a motorcycle is.

  • John Smith
    September 07, 2011 - 10:51

    I am tired of these noisy motorcyclists racing around the city at all hours and making a terrible amount of noise.They should all be ticketed,fined and have their noisy bikes taken away from them. The noise that bounces off the houses from the loud exhausts can be deafening. I hope they do something about this problem asap. It's the same thing every year.

  • Daryl Makk
    September 07, 2011 - 09:52

    As a survivor of a bad driver who could not hear my bike despite me being right next to them I am an advocate for loud pipes. Just loud enough to be heard and not obnoxious ones. Targeting bikers only for noise is discrimination. FYI I do not ride a Harley.

    • What a load
      September 07, 2011 - 11:22

      If it's that dangerous to be on bike then maybe we should ban them, after all if it's a safety issue then lets just rid of the dangerous bike.

  • Children and Toys
    September 07, 2011 - 09:29

    Remember when you stuck a playing in the spokes of your bicycle with a colthes pin to make it sound cool? Same thing. A bunch of children acting childish. You are impacting my personal rights to not hear the noise. Bring on the laws and FINES. When talking fines, I mean fines to be afraid of, not a joke like $20, but how about $5000!!! Yeah!! Thats what will make people think about it! Should be fines like that for everything, especially speeding and DWI!! Imagine that! Who would take that kind of risk?

  • Ridiculous by Stephanie martin
    September 07, 2011 - 09:28

    noise Pollution ????? wtf. The world is going crazy, what about these cars that are louder than 50 motorcycles,,.. seriously, this needs to stop, we need to focus on actual issue's there are way more serious issue's we need to take care of, STop making up more,

    • D
      September 07, 2011 - 11:11

      Its time for them to do something about it. Where does it end? There is a guy who drives up and down my street at all hours! My house actually shakes from this bike,and its not only bikes, but to me it seems that the bikes are the louder then the cars

    • What a load
      September 07, 2011 - 11:25

      You must be living in car engine. I haven't yet heard one car make as much noise as an idiot pipe on bike.

  • Ben Last
    September 07, 2011 - 09:26

    Some motorcycles are too loud , some cars are too loud - some people are too loud - Just deal with noise laws and leave the rest out of it. Dont single out a group like motorcycle rides, many of these professional people do a lot of good work for their communities. Also driving in St John's motorcyle drives have enough to deal with in regards to safety from agreessive and disrespectful drivers, dont make it worse. Also, banning aftermarket exhausts to me sounds sooo stupid.....aftermarket exhausts are not the issue. You can buy a bike out of a store brand new that is louder than a aftermarket exhaust, ignorance about the issue!!!!! I think this is getting too much attention - what about the aggressice driving problem in St Johns, the speeding, and all the crime going on - serious safety issues not just a hearing issue. Thats were I want the police to focus their attention.

  • Three Hugger
    September 07, 2011 - 09:23

    By the looks of the bikers in the photos, I think walking instead of riding might serve you well.

    • G-Unit
      September 07, 2011 - 14:44

      Insulting a persons physical appearance adds alot to the debate. You're an idiot.

  • Diego
    September 07, 2011 - 09:17

    This is yet another tempest in a teacup. Even if they get yet another law put on the books, how likely is it to be enforced? The police can't enforce the existing traffic laws and I have witnessed the police themselves breaking them. As has been mentioned previously, use the existing nuisance laws and ticket the dopes who go out of their way to make a show (in all vehicles) and forget this poorly thought-out plan that will be as effective as the cell-phone law. If you want to cut down on high-volume noise, eliminate those Cougar helicopters from flying over the city. You can hear them coming for miles and they shake everything in the house. Don't worry about bikers. Besides, just think of all the charity runs that would be in jeopardy if bikes were being pulled over indescriminantly. And realize that this is being spearheaded by a councillor who wants to put a public park on the South Side Hills. Another bright idea.

    • willyb
      September 07, 2011 - 14:37

      Didn't I see you on "Outlaw Bikers" ROTFLMAO

  • Gren
    September 07, 2011 - 09:15

    People love to have something to complain about, be it loud pipes, loud fireworks,loud talking.....the list goes on and on. Next week it'll be something else. Motorcycles create no more noise than a truck on the street, a car with Hollies....when I was a young man in the early 70's, we all had loud muscle cars..the fogies complained then,'s no different today. I can see the problem if it interferes with a swing-shift person trying to get some slepp, and that type of thing. The solution is..COMMON SENSE !

    • willyb
      September 07, 2011 - 14:35

      Didn't I see you on "Outlaw Bikers" ROTFLMAO

  • Bob Brook
    September 07, 2011 - 09:09

    I would really love to be able to write an article in a professional manner but unfortunately my education ends in a gearbox. Having held a bike licence for 51 years and in that time owning 26 m/cycles I am not exactly new to this problem. It would in my opinion be less of a problem if Mr Kendalls statement was followed up on, “It’s only a handful of irresponsible motorcyclists that are making it bad for the vast majority, who are responsible motorcyclists,” Kendall said. “Ticket ’em. Leave the rest of us alone.” Couldn`t have said it better myself. Most of us just want to ride our bikes and mind our own business whether it be solo or in a group and do not wish to cause any ill feelings with the general public. If the Police would clamp down on the “underpass throttle jockeys” and the “wheelie kings” it would make 95% of the population happy. As we all know you can never please everybody. Bob Brook [Brookie] Northern Stars RC.

  • JokerMan
    September 07, 2011 - 09:06

    First I'll say what a great summer because the rain kept the noise makers off the roads downtown! Yes police please go after all the noise makers if it be boom boxes in those glass tinted cars with the neon lights around the license plate, the bikes that are driven by attention deprived folk still stuck in the 70's, and the cars with the modified mufflers.

  • Frank
    September 07, 2011 - 08:53

    Way to lose any public support you might have had, guys. Whether you mean it or not, showing up with your bikes, waiting for councilors to come out & surrounding them looks like intimidation. And drop the silly "lawnmowers make noise too" argument.

  • Percy
    September 07, 2011 - 08:32

    I am an avid motorcycle rider of 30+ years, planning on buying a new Harley-Davidson this fall. O my, I can see the cringing faces of the readers, but here’s my point. I can not agree more, ticket the jokers with the thunder pipes rolling through down town and the residential areas shaking the windows and pounding ears. Heck, confiscate the bike if it’s a repeat offender. But (and here it comes) apply the law evenly. Prove with a meter not your ears that he is braking the law and pull in the transport truck pounding his air horns, or kid rock want-a-be’s in there moms kid carrier with the speaker on bust. Don’t judge the book by its leather bound cover. Ride free friends.

    • Moe St. Cool
      September 07, 2011 - 10:10

      "Kid Rock want-a-be's".... sorry I had to laugh...who uses Kid-rock as a reference point? What is this 1999?....

    • Eric
      September 07, 2011 - 10:50

      The way to enforce the regulation of unwanted noise is through existing regulations (every source, construction, etc.). In regards to exhaust noise, this could be simply regulated using existing laws on the books, both federal and city. After market exhausts are the real problem here, not stock exhausts. After market exhausts typically fail at emissions standards anyway, so these could be enforced on those grounds. The city of St. John's already has a no "Jake brake" (engine exhaust braking) ordinance that could be applied to any vehicle, except emergency vehicles. Just pick those individuals off, either car, pickup or motorcycles, that are making good use of their after market exhaust and hit them where it hurts -- the wallet. See the noise by-law from City of St. John's:

  • Stephen King
    September 07, 2011 - 07:52

    The Bikers make it out as if City Council are trying to take away their right to ride a motorcycle. They aren't. They're simply stating a well known fact - Motorcycles are loud, louder than cars, louder than buses, louder than other forms of transportation. The proposed bylaw seems to be pretty clear, if you don't have after market exhaust (which are completely unnecessary) you don't have anything to worry about. I'll admit that there are also suped up cars with stereos and modified exhaust systems that make noise as well and should also be ticketed, but motorcycles are definitely the worst. Please don't pretend like this is a huge infringement on your human rights - these guys and gals are making it sound like they're being persecuted. Turn on your TV's and take a look at what's happening to people in the Middle East and Africa, that will give you something to really protest.

    • Jpye
      September 07, 2011 - 16:25

      There was no bullying taking place...Not sure what he (willyb) was watching!

  • Steve
    September 07, 2011 - 07:47

    If you don't have loud aftermarket pipes you have nothing to worry about so why the objections from regular riders?

  • Too Loud
    September 07, 2011 - 07:41

    I agree with change. Not only for loud motorcycles...but those cars with the "boom pipes" on them as well. When you walk the sidewalk with your baby in his stroller and he gets frightened but a motorcycle driving by...there is something wrong. When you are in your house at night watching TV in your quite neighborhood and a bike drives by that shakes your windows...there is something wrong. It might not be all but those that purposely rev their engines or rapidly accelerate them up the road just to hear the "roar" they are causing the problem and as the saying bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

  • Gary
    September 07, 2011 - 07:33

    Let's face it, there isn't a Harley rider out there - along with Harley wannabes - who doesn't trip all over themselves to replace their stock exhaust with a $3,000 "upgrade" to a loud, obnoxious and rude aftermarket system. Will some people ever grow up??! Regulate the practice into oblivion!!

  • Bill
    September 07, 2011 - 07:21

    Like many problems that exist in the City and Province, enforcement of the current regulations is what is required to weed out the law breakers. If the excessively loud bikes, cars with the apple tin exhausts, and cars with the boom-box sound systems were stopped and ticketed for breaking existing regulations less time would be required trying to create new regulations that are really not needed.

  • darls
    September 07, 2011 - 07:20

    you guys should come up on our street...there's one idiot....i call him knightrider..he only comes out at night....and this thing is loud and he makes a point of reving up all the way.....the kicker is ...there is a coup[le of cops living here...if i see that thing ..i will flatten the tires...and its not only him ...there's also a tricked out mazda..and he comes out somewhere around 11 in the night...he comes off the side street and guns her...i swear he goes so fast he rises off the street on the hill...we are after petitioning the city for speed bumps but nothing...i only hope one of those idiots don't run into someone our street is like a freeway in the night....what happened to the good ole days when people had respect for other people....please do something before tempers flare and someone does something they regret....cheers....

  • kent
    September 07, 2011 - 07:07

    I agree that there is a significant problem with both motor-cycles and car muffler noise in the downtown. I don't why these people feel the need to assault the senses of everyone around them with the sonic booms of their cars and motor-cycles accelerating. There’s a lot of music genres I like, but I don't walk around downtown with a boom box on my shoulder subjecting everyone within 200 yards of me to load music. What makes these fools think they should get away with it? No one wants to listen to your machines. Lastly, the counter-argument that emergency vehicles and construction equipment also makes noise is stupid.... These vehicles are used in the interest of public good.