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Editorial: Big noise

While the pull of the open road is strong during the summer months, firefighters and RCMP officers want to remind the motoring public to always practice safety while behind the wheel.
While the pull of the open road is strong during the summer months, firefighters and RCMP officers want to remind the motoring public to always practice safety while behind the wheel.

Maybe they just didn’t think about cause and effect. Or maybe they’ve shown everyone a sharp little truth about motorcycles and loud exhaust systems.

Even as a meeting with Signal Hill Road residents and city officials about motorcycle noise was wrapping up last week, a group of motorcyclists was travelling up and down the street, smoking tires and gunning engines in what can only be described as an upright middle finger to the neighbourhood, to noise bylaws, and to anyone else who likes to enjoy a little peace and quiet at the end of the day.

Maybe some of those riders took satisfaction from their ability to thumb their noses at an entire neighbourhood and impose their will on people who are seemingly powerless to stop a deliberate intrusion.

Chances are, though, they did more harm than good.

We hear the same complaints every summer: riders on loud bikes with modified exhausts love to blat their way around downtown St. John’s, making a point of revving their engines even when they are standing still — and then protesting that they need to make noise so other drivers will notice them.

Loud pipes are a safety issue, so that riders are noticed?

We might be willing to believe that when the predominant colour worn by motorcyclists is neon green, instead of the close-to-universal black.

When motorcycles stay in their lane during highway delays, instead of scooting dangerously along the paved shoulder.

When motorcyclists obey the speed limits and don’t weave through traffic on the Outer Ring Road, passing other vehicles on both sides.

When they all wear full face-protection helmets, instead of half-shell or brain-bucket helmets and black face bandannas with skulls drawn on them.

The fact is that, for a cadre of loud riders (who are not, it should be said, the majority of motorcycle riders), it isn’t about safety at all — it’s about showing off, and safety’s just an excuse.

But back to the Signal Hill rowdies.

They may think they’ve struck a blow for muffler freedom.

More likely, they’ve angered more residents, hardened the resolve of opponents, and made it even harder for the police and governments to stand around and do nothing.

Right now, the city and the province are passing the buck back and forth — eventually, though, when resident are angry enough, regulations will be put in place that let the police take immediate action.

If you ride loud and proud, think about this little snippet from Global News about motorcycle noise in Vancouver: “A recent B.C. Supreme Court decision means officers no longer need to use a decibel metre to measure exhaust noise. If they think it’s too loud they can hand riders a $109 ticket on the spot.”

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And heck, the government needs the money.

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