Pipe down

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It’s summer again, and downtown the fat exhaust pipes of the big motorcycles are casting out their blatting racket, big engines with pipes wide enough to slip a pop can into, pipes designed for no other reason than to make as much noise as they can.

Summertime, the only time you’ll have your windows open, and if it’s not the motorcycles disturbing the evening, it’s car stereos so overpowered that, inside, their owners don’t realize that the sheer volume sometimes makes the sheet metal on the outside of their cars vibrate so much that it buzzes like angry bees.

And if it’s not the car stereos, it’s the throbbed, pulsing legion of the party buses, vehicles whose bass notes rattle windows blocks away as they drift around the city, each one their own oasis of party noise. If it was your neighbours who were having a party that loud, the police would be on the way.

Motorcycle drivers say loud pipes keep them safer; the sound, they like to say, makes other vehicles notice them.

Well, everyone certainly notices — but if it’s a matter of other drivers being aware, why is it that you regularly see motorcycles crank their throttles open on quiet residential streets with no traffic? Simple. You might not like the sound, but they seem to love it — and, in a small way, they seem to love that you don’t like it, too.

The City of St. John’s asked the provincial government to help deal with the sound and the irritation, even though the Highway Traffic Act, Section 195(1) says the minister can already make rules about vehicle equipment to, among other things, “eliminate or reduce noise or other nuisances incidental to the operation of the vehicle.”

The provincial government’s response would make you think the provincial cabinet has a few Harley-Davidson riders of its own.

“This is a fairly complex issue and that will take some time. At this point we have not found a feasible way to deal with it," said Government Services Minister Paul Davis. "No other jurisdiction appears to have dealt with this.”

Council, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to want to move forward without provincial direction.

It’s a strange little gap.

The city has, for example, legislated that “an animal so kept as to be injurious to health or a source of annoyance to neighbours” is a nuisance, and its owners can be fined. Likewise, “a chimney sending out smoke or vapours in a quantity as to be objectionable to neighbours” can be defined as a nuisance. Fines follow.

The city can even make laws it doesn’t bother to enforce, like section 380 of The City of St. John’s Act: “ A substantial ladder shall be fixed to the roof of every dwelling house and kept in good repair by the owner except where a regular access to the roof from the inside is provided.”

You’ve probably seen precious few of those ladders, or of the “ashpits” the act also regulates in several places.

The point is, someone has to be able to make rules when the behaviour of one group of citizens extends far beyond their own personal tailpipe party and into the quiet enjoyment others can expect on their own property.

Organizations: Harley-Davidson, Government Services

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Recent comments

  • McLovin
    July 03, 2012 - 21:16

    I see the commenters on my original post were too dense to pick up on my sarcastic comment about the airplanes bothering me while I was playing golf. If you think it was a ridiculous comment then good, because it was meant to me just that. Just as ridiculous as the comments on here about motorcycles and cars disrupting people's peace and quiet. I can deal with the airplanes just as easily as I can deal with the crotch rockets, Harleys and suped up Honda Civics!! How? Because I dont sweat meaningless and trivial things such as this issue. We have a Prime Minister who is changing the face of our country. We have a government here in this province that is about to spend about 10 billion dollars of tax payer money on a project that, in my opinion, has not been convincing enough to warrant such a expenditure and at the same time the same crew is changing its access to information laws so they can keep more secrets, and so on and so on and on and I'm supposed to be worried about after market tail pipes and how they disrupt Joe Blow from going out and taking a nap in their back yard hammock? Gimme a break. And Eli, my Kokki, your comment about the tail pipes not saving lives because they dont face forward is one of the dumbest things I ever read in my life and I ALWAYS read these comments on most every story. Using your logic we would never hear a car coming from behind us, until it was past us. I never would have heard those planes on Saturday until they were overhead, or I would never be able to hear anyone who was talking to me with their back turned. Do some of you people even take the time to think before you type some of this stuff? All you people on here, Editor included are the definition of hypocrisy. Youre basically saying that everyone is entitled to fun and enjoyment as long as you agree with it and it doesn't disrupt your fun and enjoyment (or peace and quiet). How narcisisstic are you people at all? Here is everyone on here "I don't like motorcycles with after market tail pipes, therefore the government must step in and ban them." Who annointed you people as the law makers for our society? And even better still, the actual law makers basically told you that they weren't going to ban the tail pipes and what do you do? You come on here and whine about it some more. Real mature!!! Have some respect for "the hood" I live in? How about having some respect for yourselves first. Then maybe I'll start respecting both you and my hood!!!

    • So Sad
      July 04, 2012 - 08:02

      Poor fella, he just doesn't get it. His own arguments are self defeating.

    • Carl
      July 04, 2012 - 14:55

      That's right, McEgo. Everyone else here is wrong, and you are the only one who sees things clearly. You say those who disagree with you - which you admit includes everyone else commenting here - are "narcisisstic" (which you spelled incorrectly, by the way) and hypocritical. Can you really not see the irony in that? As for the issue of noisy motorcycles, you summed up my position perfectly - Everyone is entitled to fun and enjoyment as long as it doesn't disrupt anyone else's fun and enjoyment. Are you really so narcissistic (that's the correct spelling) that you think your so-called rights are more important than everyone else's?

    • Eli
      July 05, 2012 - 12:47

      Hey Kokki, you forgot already (see one of your other comments) the reference to tailpipes not facing forward was supposed to be directed at Harley Fagg. I forgive the short attention span but I share your apparent disgust about Federal and Provincial governments freehandedness.

    • McLovin
      July 06, 2012 - 09:47

      Spelling police in da house!! Thanks officer Carl! And yes I agree, everyone is entitled to their fun. And this merry go round of who is entitled to their fun, who is being narcisisstic (made sure there were only three s's that time because that fourth "s" totally made my last post confusing and unreadable) can spin round and round all day. The only point I am trying to make in all of this is that the people who are saying that the motorcycles are disrupting their peace and enjoyment are being unreasonable. I'm not saying that a motorcycle doesn't make noise. It clearly does. However, the brief amount of time that a person is subjected to such noise is not enough to elicit the response this issue is getting and I think that the people against motorcycles are being unreasonable with their attitudes and demands. I also believe that the argument being made by those against motorcycles has more to do with the stereotype that is stuck to a typical person who rides a motorcycle and people's fear of these people than it does with the noise their bikes make. I hope my spelling was good enough for you this time Carl. Actually I don't really care at all. You'll still get my point.

    • McLovn
      July 06, 2012 - 10:12

      Eli, sorry again for the comment, but if you read below, I apologized shortly after I posted the comment I originally directed at you.

  • Jayyydeee
    July 03, 2012 - 17:26

    So if I took the muffler off my car, I wouldn't get a ticket, GREAT. I could tell the police I wanted to make sure, everyone could hear me coming and wouldn't pull out in front of me.

    • McLovin
      July 06, 2012 - 10:27

      This is the most logical thing I have read on here yet. You make a good point. At least I think you are trying to make a point.

  • Molly
    July 03, 2012 - 16:14

    Mclovin and John Smith have a lot in common (I wouldn't be surprised but they are the same person). They both show a propensity to jump in to defend the provincial government from criticism. They are both insensitive to the interests and rights of others. They both demonstrate an inability to think logically or to respond coherently to the points made by others......... Also I think Chantal makes a good point - guys who drive around on motorcycles modified to make as much noise as possible are indeed compensating.

    • McLovin
      July 03, 2012 - 21:25

      Nope I'm definitely not John Smith and nor am I defending the government. I'm sure they are both quite capable of defending themselves. "They are both insensitive to the interests and rights of others". You have it completely arseformus Molly. The reason I wrote the original article was to point out that the people who have these motorcycles, cars, outdoor fireplaces,etc are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as you are and are free to pursue their own interests (ie. Motorcycles, Cars, etc). I was also trying to point out that whenever we as a society are faced with something we do not like or agree with, we have to attack it and lobby government to change things, despite the fact that there may be select group of people out there who think the exact opposite as you do. I also firmly believe that there are far more important things we should be worrying about than something as trivial as this issue. And this comment write here " Also I think Chantal makes a good point - guys who drive around on motorcycles modified to make as much noise as possible are indeed compensating" - makes you no better than the person you have me made out to be.

  • Virginia Waters
    July 03, 2012 - 15:48

    Why not give up while you're behind Mr. McClown! You're first post was very clear. You're right to have fun supersedes the right of other citizens to the quiet enjoyment of their properties. Yes aircraft and bulldozers are noisy but no more than is necessary in the course of ordinary business. They do not 'soup-up' their machines in order to deliberately attract attention to themselves. I don't know whether you own or don't own a motorcycle but either way I'm certain you have a set of LOUD PIPES.

    • McLovin
      July 03, 2012 - 21:32

      Thank-you for proving my point and for the childish name calling. Just because my definition of fun and enjoyment is not the same as yours does not make me wrong and does not mean that my rights supercede yours. But the impression I am getting from everyone on here is that your rights definitely supercede mine. And trust me I do not own any loud set of pipes and just imagine, I still manage to quietly enjoy my property. Mind boggling, isnt it?

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    July 03, 2012 - 12:25

    These guys always proclaim the safety issue with regard to loud pipes on motorcycles. How safe is it when the majority of the riders operating with loud pipes are running around with ear plugs because they can't even tolerate the noise? Enough with the BS!

  • CFA
    July 03, 2012 - 11:27

    This article is a nice follow-up to your “Living in ‘the world of me’” editorial.

  • Mad
    July 03, 2012 - 09:55

    Its called "R E S P E C T".

    • McLovin
      July 03, 2012 - 12:41

      " R E S P E C T" is a two way street. You have to respect their rights to enjoy themselves as they see fit. Who are you to demand that people live by your "rules"?

    • Too Funny
      July 03, 2012 - 17:51

      "You have to respect their rights to enjoy themselves as they see fit." That's rich. Well your honor, it's my right to swing my fist as much as I see fit. It's his fault for putting his face in the way. Making noise is not a right. If it was, I doubt it would supersede the right of others to quiet enjoyment.

  • McLovin
    July 03, 2012 - 08:43

    OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I don't own a motorcycle and probably never will. I don't have any fancy exhaust or stereo in my car. I've only been on the party bus once in my life and I don't have a woodstove, chimnea or any other wood burning appliance. What has gotten wrong with society, that the minute we see someone enjoying their life that we automatically have to complain about it and try to develop legislation to prevent these people from enjoying life? You might hate your life but that doesn't give you the right to ruin someone else's fun. Is the three of four seconds of Harley noise really that much of a bother? Similarly is listening to a few loud tunes for a couple of seconds really that upsetting that you have to go and close your windows? I played golf on Saturday and Clovelly and there were planes landing at the airport every 2 or 3 minutes and that was very loud and distracting to me while I was golfing. Who can I complain to that about? (sarcasm intended) Get a life by, stop worrying about what everyone else out there is doing. Mind your own business and focus on enjoying your own life. If all you have to worry about is a few motorcycles or loud music or some wood smoke then you really don't have it too bad!!

    • More like mcClueless
      July 03, 2012 - 09:59

      You aren't even aware that you proved the editors point. "that doesn't give you the right to ruin someone else's fun." Wow, exactly what the Editor is saying. And your example of a plane bothering you while you golfed further proves the point. Planes aren't made to be intentional loud unlike the car stereos and aftermarket pipes. Get a clue b'y, and maybe you'll learn something.

    • McLovin
      July 03, 2012 - 12:56

      I understand the Editor's point perfectly fine thank-you!! This article is nothing more than a response to a decision made by Government that did not go the way the Editor had hoped and now that Editor has to write and pout about it. My comment about the airport also served it's purpose. If people can live and survive with constant low flying planes over head for 12 months out a year, they can certainly survive with 4 or 5 months of motorcycles. My comment had nothing to do with me living in the "world of me" or anything else and I'm sorry, with all the noise from "life" and the rest of the world, it's ridiculous and sensational (see "vehicles whose bass notes rattle windows blocks away" above) to suggest that the noise from motorcycles and cars and the smoke from burning wood prevents others from enjoying their own time and space. I am also of the opinion that if the LOUD PIPES on motorcycles prevents one accident or saves even one life, then not banning them is more than worth it.

    • Harley Phagg
      July 03, 2012 - 14:25

      Loud pipes save lives eh? I've yet to see any modified exhaust pipes that face forward which would project noise at approaching drivers. I've yet to see a rider with loud pipes in high visibility clothing either. I guess that wouldn't attract the type of attention they're seeking. Little do those with loud pipes know that EVERYONE is laughing at them, not because they're funny, but because they are pathetic. Self esteem therapy is cheaper than a loud bike, and it's helpful all year round.

    • Eli
      July 03, 2012 - 15:01

      First off kokki, you can play golf on numerous courses on The Avalon that don't have airplane noise. Airplanes have been using those same approach patterns 50 years before Clovelly became a buzz-destination in the East End of St. John's. So peddle your clubs to Terra Nova if airplane noise is YOUR problem. If that's too far for you try Saint Jones Within. Still too far? Try Mt. Pearl, or would that be too far "out of town" for you. By the way, as a golfer I take it you watch the PGA. There's hardly a course that's not on a flightpath. Tiger might have a fit at a camera-click but airplanes can cruise overhead and he does'nt give a good continental. Grow up!, & have some respect for "the hood" you live in.

    • More Like McClueless
      July 03, 2012 - 17:43

      You know that swoosh you heard. It was the point going over your head. Not only did you miss it but now you're in denial. Let me make it simple for you. Planes make noise because they need very powerful engines in order to fly. That engine power is a necessity. The noise it makes is an unfortunate by-product. Loud stereos and after market pipes are not a necessity. They serve no purpose except to cry out for the attention from others. Their "fun", as you call it, comes at the expense of others. The myth of loud pipes saves lives is BS, worse, it defies any intelligent reasoning. Yes b'y, so loud the person on the bike can't hear anything around him. And let's hope he isn't near one of those kids having "fun" with his stereo.

    • McLovin
      July 03, 2012 - 21:45

      Apologies to Eli, the part about the pipes not facing forward being the dumbest thing I ever read should have been directed at Harley Phagg

    • McLovin
      July 04, 2012 - 09:56

      No point went over my head at all but my point seems to be going over your head. I agree with what you all are saying about the noise ruining your fun, I'm not disputing that. I get it. But at the same time, your demands, if listened to, would ruin the fun for those who enjoy their motorcycles, cars, etc and you all seem ok with that and you all seem to think that your peace and quiet should trump everything else and I think that that attitude is just ignorant. You all have your opinions about the pipes and their ability to save lives. You are entitled to those opinions but at the end of the day they are just OPINIONS, not facts and trying to pass them off as fact is also ignorant. I dont own a motorcycle and nor have I ever driven one but if the drivers of them say that the pipes save lives, I'll trust their opinions and I highly highly doubt that the people buying these after market pipes, buy them for the sole purpose to p i s s people off or to destroy other people's fun and enjoyment and to suggest such an opinion is ridiculous and just plain childish.

    • More like mclueless
      July 04, 2012 - 13:11

      You really know how to contradict yourself. Yeah, everyone has opinions but you failed to notice that yours is an opinion as well. It's the proponents of the noise makers that claim they save lives. So the burden to prove it is on them, until then it is not a fact. If it was true then all bike owners would have them. All manufacturers would install them. Guess what. The majority of them don't, because it is not a safety reason. It's a "look at me" noise reason. Your logic is twisted at best. Somehow you reason the opposing opinions are "ignorant". But apparently your opinion and those of some bike owners with aftermarket pipes are as good as fact. Now that's ignorant. Sure let the noise maker have his right to have fun even if it violates another person's right to be free from it. You have not made one intelligent argument. Person after person has shot holes in your points but you still don't get it. Maybe you're not capable of getting it.

    • McLovin
      July 06, 2012 - 10:02

      Right now, according to the laws and legislation in this Province, the proponents of "loud" tail pipes are doing nothing wrong so they don't have to prove anything. If you and the rest of the anti-motorcycle people out there want to change these laws then the onus is on you and your friends to prove that they don't save lives, or that it's damaging to your health, etc. Just because you live Downtown doesn't mean that non-residents have to do as the residents say and FYI, not everyone thinks DT is the greatest place on earth. But at the end of the day, I personally could not care what happens either way, I'm not a bike owner or rider, I just take great offense when a group of people elect themselves as the law makers of society, then decide that they are going to act on everyone else's behalf (even though a lot of us didn't ask for help) and offer up their opinions as fact and even go as far to wrongly use statistics and conclusions from completely irrelevant studies to strengthen their argument. Then when they don't get their way, then start with the crying and whining and insulting. I guess that's the DOWNTOWN way!!

    • More like mcClueless
      July 06, 2012 - 11:43

      Are you for real? Is this an example of your thought processes? When the laws were written, no one had a problem with the noise from the manufacturer's original tail pipes. But today, people do have a problem with the increasing number of aftermarket pipes that were designed with no other purpose but to increase the noise. And here's a newsflash, No one is "anti-motorcycle", that's your spin on it and wrong as usual.

  • AR
    July 03, 2012 - 07:52

    Paul Davis is wrong when he says no other jurisdiction has dealt with the problem of noisy motorcycles. He also says the problem is ' complex ' ?. What's complex about it ?. Set a maximum decibel level and enforce it by the use of handheld meters that measure noise levels. Complex ?. Yeah, right. While Council and the Prov. Gov't. drag their heels on this issue and keep passing it back and forth ' for another look ', we have to put up with those mental midget nuisances assaulting our eardrums. Enough, already, time for the City and Prov. Gov't. to grow a pair and do something about the damn noise from those motorcycles.

  • Chantal
    July 03, 2012 - 07:34

    It's called "compensating."