Motorcycles not the only source of noise

Joan Butler
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It is summer and that brings the annual complaints about the noisy motorcycles in St. John’s and discussion on what the city and province should be doing about the racket.

We are regularly inundated by noises of summer — and year round for that matter — and it is amazing how this particular noise issue becomes such a public one with cries for changes in the law and more police enforcement.

Yes, the noise from the motorcycles is loud, offensive to some, and perhaps above acceptable or legal levels. However, there are certainly many other noises that pollute our surroundings as we try to enjoy the short summer season.

Beyond the overpass and here in Conception Bay South, we too get the noisy motorcycles as their drivers enjoy a run out around the bay.   

There are many other noises too — some we enjoy and others we hate — that go with living in and outside the city. And we seem to accept the noises as part of summer.

Why is that we don’t hear complaints about noise from fireworks? They are popular with local town and city celebrations such as New Year’s Eve and Canada Day, and people buy them throughout the year for birthdays and other special occasions.

The fireworks are an acceptable part of summer and year-round living. Yet they are noisy, frighten people and their pets, disrupt our sleep and frequently get fired off past the legal noise bylaw times.

Music from outdoor parties, music and noise from the decks of bars and restaurants, outdoor concerts and events are too all part of summer.

For some they are annoying nuisances, but most of us accept them as part of summer, close the windows and turn up the television volume.

For years, many residents of C.B.S. who live on the coast or other areas adjacent to the T’Railway had to live with noise from ATVs and dirt bikes at all hours of the day and night.

Now they have to listen to the noisy dirt bikes heading to gravel pits south of the town near the Trans-Canada Highway.

A summer ritual for thousands is a visit to our Topsail Beach, accessible via several residential side streets.

People in that area have to live with the increased noise of cars and motorcycles, as well as that from the park users.   

Common sounds here in C.B.S. and other areas outside the overpass are barking dogs, snowmobiles, chainsaws and other sounds of suburban and rural life.    

Why is there so much focus on motorcycles when there is so much noise that interrupts our daily lives in summer and throughout the year?

At least the provincial government is staying out of the city’s issue, or at least for now, and not looking at any provincial legislation.

Local police have suggested decibel monitoring devices to catch the loud bikers. Some cities in Canada — Bathurst, N.B., and Edmonton to name a couple — have implemented bylaws regarding motorcycle and other loud vehicle noise, and this seems to be the desire in St. John’s.

The noise and the attempts to do something about it are likely not going away. The question is should we be spending valuable time and resources on having police officers chasing people with noisy, expensive motorcycles when there are many more important issues on and off the road?

The motorcycle noise is just one of many irritants that are part of the short Newfoundland summer.

Coastal Sounds

Coastal Sounds choir is starting a ladies’ choir, and female singers in C.B.S. and surrounding area are encouraged to sign up for an audition.

Auditions are scheduled for Sept. 13 or can be arranged by appointment. To learn more email or visit

Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached by email at

Geographic location: C.B.S., Eve, Topsail Beach Canada Bathurst Edmonton Newfoundland Kelligrews

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Recent comments

  • jim
    July 17, 2014 - 12:23

    Tony Lee... real classy. Your right, we probably wouldn't know you passed us on the highway. Chances are you are clocking 70 or 80 km over the speed limit putting everyone elses lives in jeapordy. And by the way i haven't seen to many old biker wannabes doing wheelies doing the "look what i can do" on their crotch rockets which i can guarentee you would fail a decipal test. You will be one of those old real biker wannabes one of those days too. So keep your stupidity to yourself>

  • chris
    July 17, 2014 - 11:42

    Here in CBS there is a small yellow car that speeds around at all hours with the radio on bust. This moron makes every room in the house vibrate. He attacks all roads from Foxtrap Access to Minerals Rd.

  • darby
    July 17, 2014 - 10:35

    I'm 60 and drive a Harley touring bike, completely stock. Love the ergonomics and comfort of the bike but wish it was a little quieter. The claim that loud pipes keeps you safer is absolute nonsense! I guess that's why the 'men in black' have to keep cracking the throttle as they move at 10 -20 km/hr between the lights on Water St. If you are worried about being visible then maybe a piece of brighter clothing might help - oops! that might shake the image!........sad!

  • jerome delaney
    July 17, 2014 - 09:27

    I work downtown, the noise from motorcycles are outrageous, especially Harleys . Under the Pitts Memorial overpass on Water Street, they rev their bikes on purpose to get the echo effect, very annoying. If there is no noise restriction on motorcycles, then when my muffler falls off my truck, why should I replace it . Then there is the argument about no mufflers on bikes, reducing accidents, BS. Don't cars and trucks have accidents, should we all take our mufflers off. I have seen many bike riders, doing very unsafe stuff on the highway, speeding is only a small part of it, shouldn't they take some responsibility for their accidents. You have an accident in a car or truck you have steel to protect you, on a motorcycle, you have nothing.

    • NLCitizen
      July 17, 2014 - 09:45

      You have an accident in a car or truck you have steel to protect you, on a motorcycle, you have nothing. That is precisely the reason why some bikers want loud pipes.

  • Tony Lee
    July 17, 2014 - 09:07

    I am a avid motorcyclist and have been for more then 30 years! I totally agree that something needs to be done about the loud exhausts on motorcycles. I have one of the most powerful bikes on the road, Yamaha Vmax and you would hardly know I just passed you with the factory exhaust. There is no need for this noise pollution with people wanting to be cool( old men trying to be youngsters reving there oil leaking Harley's) Many argue that the noise will be heard and therefore you will be seen easier and less likely to have an accident! Total hogwash! Maybe we all should put loud fog horns on all bikes and have them programmed to sound every 2 seconds!! To me that suggestion is just as silly as the idea that having the loud roar exhaust I acceptable. To all the old REAL BIKER WANNABES WITH YOUR BANDANAS AND LOUD EXHAUST, give us all a break and go buy a sports car!!

  • Christopher Chafe
    July 17, 2014 - 08:44

    It would be nice to know how many of those people complaining about "noise" live out side of downtown St. John's, or are not those that must be seen sitting outside a bistro coffee shop sipping on their over priced latte?

  • darby
    July 17, 2014 - 08:30

    this prevailing attitude of 'don't deal with any issues unless you can solve all of them' really is sad.

  • NLCitizen
    July 17, 2014 - 07:20

    Cruel irony that you referenced Coastal Sounds Choir at the end of this article.

  • White Noise
    July 17, 2014 - 05:15

    Both you and Peter Jackson could have used this space to write about a meaningful timely topic but you have merely added to the noise. There is technology now that masks sound - cancelling it with more sound like using fire to stop a fire - alas, you two are not that - and instead of trying to balance a non-issue how about you two come up with something more than city-clickbait next time? First-world white noise masking of real issues. You both could have told us about Paul Davis's campaign but instead focused on muffler legislation. Thank you.

    • artie
      July 17, 2014 - 19:04

      Whitenoise is considered background noise. The midlife crisis noise that comes out of these two wheele abominations is , and must be ruled unlawful. It is time this govt. addressed this residential problem if they want a small issue that most homeowners are fed up with at 11 pm at night. The PC's need to appease blue collar voters and this is a great issue. If loud pipes equalled less accidents then every chevy would sound like a F-35. Just put on a reflective vest, but the vest would cover your colors.