PORTLAND – Your recent editorial on loud motorcycles (“Motorcycle noise annoys too many too much to ignore,” Feb. 24) was excellent and timely.

There are many thousands of Mainers who are fed up with the noise blight caused by loud motorcycles equipped with illegal exhausts and are not happily contemplating another summer filled with this noise pollution.

The Maine Municipal Association testified at the Feb. 2 public hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee neither in favor nor against to LD 1675.

The bill was a concept draft to enable public discussion and, as such, didn’t have specific language. However, the MMA was very clear about the growing motorcycle noise problem and said that something needs to be done.

Also, the Maine Lung Association wants something done because of the air pollution that results when the EPA-certified exhaust is replaced with an open-pipe system.

Open pipes, such as drag pipes, which are illegal for street use, have no muffler and are quite often used on loud motorcycles. This disables the machine’s air pollution equipment, which is a violation of federal law and is also a Class E crime in Maine.

Although motorcycles are required to get an annual inspection sticker like all other vehicles, in 2008 only about 38 percent were issued the sticker. Unlike all others, bikers are only required to carry the sticker with them, not to display it on the machine.

Maine Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles supports changing the law to require that the sticker be displayed on the bike. Motorcycles are required to have a muffler and can’t legally be given an inspection sticker without one.

MECALM wants police officers to begin stopping loud motorcycles and checking them for the inspection sticker and the muffler. If those are lacking, then tickets should be written. If the muffler is lacking, then an additional ticket should be written for rendering the air pollution equipment inoperable.

Before this can happen, police chiefs will have to ascertain that, if any of their officers are bikers, that their motorcycles are fully compliant with Maine laws. MECALM strongly supports that the EPA matching label law be used to curtail loud motorcycles, because it’s easy to enforce and is fair.

In 2007, Denver adopted the law and with consistent enforcement and substantial penalties, has been very successful in largely solving the loud motorcycle problem.

This has been done without inconveniencing quiet bikers because only the loud bikes are targeted.

It’s difficult to believe that loud bikers are unaware of the EPA label, especially when one realizes that all motorcycles made after 1982 must include in the owner’s manual the following under the title, “Tampering with Noise Control System Prohibited:”

“Federal law prohibits the following acts or the causing thereof; (1) the removal or rendering inoperative by any person other than for purposes of maintenance, repairs, or replacement of any device or element of design incorporated into any new vehicle for the purpose of noise control prior to its sale or delivery to the ultimate purchaser or while it is in use, or (2) the use of the vehicle after such device or element of design has been removed or rendered inoperative by any person.” Among those acts presumed to constitute tampering are the acts listed here:

“Removing or puncturing the muffler, baffles, header pipes, screen type spark arrester (if equipped) or any other component which conducts exhaust gases; replacing the exhaust system or muffler with a system or muffler not marked with the same model specific code as the code listed on the Motorcycle Noise Emission Control Information label, and certified to appropriate EPA noise standards; removing or puncturing the air cleaner case, air cleaner cover, baffles, or any other component which conducts intake air.”

Many Mainers are looking forward to the day when their neighborhoods and communities will be free from loud motorcycles, and when riding loud will be as unacceptable as smoking in a restaurant or in a hospital.

 

– Special to the Press Herald