City Council Bill Aims to Quiet Motorcycle Noise

The City Council is considering a bill to keep excessively loud motorcycles from stopping, standing or parking on city streets.

hellsangels.jpgRelax guys, you can keep your jackets. Photo: SliceofNYC/Flickr

Intro 416-A would require motorcycles in New York to be equipped with EPA-stamped exhaust systems — a federal mandate since 1983, but one that is rarely enforced. Though replacing or altering EPA-approved mufflers is against the law, installations of louder after-market equipment are common.

NoiseOFF, a Queens-based org dedicated to combating noise pollution, writes:

Modified motorcycles can reach noise levels in excess of 100db(a); a
level that easily triggers an involuntary stress response commonly
known as "flight or flight." This results in the secretion of
adrenaline, with ensuing spikes in cardio-respiratory rates, muscle
tension, and elevated blood pressure. For affected residents, the
never-ending cycle of noise constitutes a serious health issue.

"It is
already illegal to ride with loud pipes in NYC," says NoiseOFF founder Richard Tur. "Intro 416-A is designed
to allow better enforcement of the law."

A similar local ordinance was adopted in Denver. The New York iteration is sponsored by Council Member Alan Gerson. It would allow for graduated fines for repeat offenders, as well as confiscation of illegally-equipped motorcycles.

Not surprisingly, such laws are unpopular with motorcycle owners and lobbying groups, who claim they discriminate against their vehicle of choice while letting drivers of loud cars and trucks off the hook. Sound from other vehicles is, in fact, already regulated under current city code, but the New York bill nevertheless got plenty of attention from motorcycle enthusiasts when it was introduced late last year.

"We’re still working diligently to get it passed," a Gerson spokesperson told Streetsblog.

While the new bill would ideally raise the profile of noisy motorcycles as a quality of life concern city-wide, some NYPD precincts are already well acquainted with the problem. Police in Inwood and Washington Heights, where neighborhood streets often double as a race course, routinely ticket riders and have impounded over a dozen motorcycles this year.

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