’Tis summer, and the pipes are calling once more — those roaring, mind-rattling, gut-shattering pipes.
After-market motorcycle exhaust systems are again calling us to action. I refer to those of us who enjoy a reasonable amount of peace in our lives — who might enjoy the scattered motor race or the hoots and hollers of a recreational event, but also like to think they can occasionally escape the unholy cacophony caused by people who seem to live in a bubble devoid of common decency and respect.
I am not the sort of person to engage in name-calling. I don’t feel it’s productive. The people who make these alterations to their motorcycles may be the most reasonable, generous souls in every other aspect of their lives. But in this one respect, the wilful desire to tear around residential streets making unconscionable amounts of clatter, they are, to use the vernacular, ignoramuses. And surveys show the vast majority of my fellow citizens feel the same way.
The feeble arguments have come and gone. There is no proof that loud pipes save lives. None at all.
A typical case, for example, is made by biking enthusiast Ted Laturnus, who had an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail in 2010 arguing that loud pipes save lives. Yet, he offers no demonstration of this, citing only one source that says they “sometimes” might help. Such a vague feeling of security hardly warrants driving the citizenry insane. Your are driving a motorcycle, after all. They are inherently less safe. Deal with it.
Revealingly, even Laturnus seems to understand the absurdity of roaring bikes in an urban setting,
“I’ll be the first to admit that the weekend warrior who revs his engine incessantly at a stoplight or blasts through downtown just to hear his exhaust note bounce off the buildings is an overgrown juvenile delinquent and should be fined immediately — not to mention required to seek professional psychiatric help.”
Oh, were it so easy to fine such a scoundrel. Except that, unlike some provinces and municipalities in this country, we have no legislation in place to do so.
When a huge outcry arose two summers ago, St. John’s city council attempted to address the problem, but found themselves hitting a wall trying to get the province on board.
The minister in charge was Paul Davis, a well-known motorcycle enthusiast himself, and now a PC leadership candidate. In a letter to city council, Davis said there was no “feasible way to deal with this issue,” and that the government would also have to consider other sources of excessive noise.
Other sources? Whatever does he mean? You can’t compare a dumptruck rattling down a street in the course of doing business to someone who’s deliberately creating a racket. (You can, of course, if the dump truck doesn’t have a working muffler.)
Essentially, Davis was dishing out the same red herrings his motorcycle buddies have been peddling for years.
So, can we legislate against loud pipes? You bet we can.
Take the U.S., the land of the easy rider. How many states would you think legislate against loud motorcycles? The answer is 36, according to the American Automobile Association. That’s right, about three-quarters of them.
Not only that, but most go beyond merely counting decibels. They outlaw the use of after-market pipes altogether. Virginia puts it quite simply: “The exhaust system must be no louder than the original factory equipment.”
The madness has to stop. And the government is the place to start. Contact your MHA or government minister. Let Paul Davis know how you feel. After all, he’s gunning to be premier now. It’s clear we won’t convince the noise-makers to see reason. But the government should speak for the greater public good.
It’s time they acted.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.