In a previous blog, we wrote about how a Massachusetts man tried end a memorial motorcycle ride by getting his city to require noise checks for any motorcycle ride passing through. The measure didn’t work, but there are plenty of cities all over the country that have tried similar measures. However, these efforts are often thwarted by the tenacity of motorcyclists and by state laws.
A Brief Look at the Motorcycle Noise Ordinance
In California, as a measure to limit the noise emitted by motorcycles, the state instituted a law that says non-EPA-approved motorcycle exhaust systems are not permitted on the state’s roads. This measure was meant to limit noise by making aftermarket exhausts illegal while claiming the measure was an effort to reduce air pollution. However, the EPA motorcycle noise standard is 80 decibels. This allowed manufacturers to continue producing loud aftermarket exhausts, as long as the pipes did not increase a motorcycle’s emissions.
In Michigan, the town of Royal Oak implemented a sound ordinance to limit motorcycle noise in the area. The ordinance was fully enforced by the town’s police, even when the famous Woodward Dream Cruise was in town. However, that was the beginning of the end for this ordinance. Lawyers representing riders from the Dream Cruise took the city to court and showed that the less strict Michigan state law superseded the local ordinance. Now, the police of that city don’t have the authority to ticket motorcyclists riding bikes deemed too loud.
Here in Colorado, we also have a state ordinance for noise. Any bike manufactured on or after July 1, 1971 and before January 1,1973 may not exceed 88 decibels measured at a distance of 50 feet from the center of the lane of travel. Motorcycles built after January 1, 1973 must not exceed 86 decibels at that same measured distance. Do you think this is too rigid an ordinance, or do you think the sound level should be lowered? Your opinion could be influenced by whether you ride or not.
Why Sound Levels Are Important to Motorcyclists
You see, in the motorcycling community, many believe the issue of loud motorcycles is an issue of safety. They believe that loud pipes catch the attention of inattentive or distracted drivers, making sure the motorcyclist is noticed and avoiding a potential motorcycle accident. This is why noise ordinances need to have an understanding of not only a community’s needs, but of a motorcyclist’s safety when determining what limits to put on locals. These laws also need to take into account what regulations are already in place statewide.
A reminder from the motorcycle accident attorneys at Metier Law Firm—looking out for motorcyclists throughout Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.