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MAINE LEGISLATURE TAKES UP MOTORCYCLE NOISE ISSUE IN WINTER 2010 SESSION

January 26, 2010

www.mecalm.org
[Maine Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles]

MAINE LEGISLATURE TAKES UP MOTORCYCLE NOISE ISSUE IN WINTER 2010 SESSION

MECALM has called on the Maine legislature to swiftly pass a bill introduced by Sen. Nancy Sullivan (D-Biddeford) and nine co-sponsors to curb excessive noise made by illegally loud motorcycles. “An Act To Reduce Noise Caused by Motorcycles and Improve Public Health,” (LD1675) has been referred to the Transportation Committee, which will hold a public hearing on the measure on February 2, 2010 at 1 p.m. at the State House in Augusta.

Although LD1675 is a “concept bill” to be fleshed out in the legislative process, MECALM said it will call for inclusion of two specific provisions.

First is adoption of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 1982 motorcycle noise compliance system allowing state and local police to issue tickets to motorcycles with illegal exhaust systems. Federal law requires that all motorcycles manufactured after 1982 have an EPA noise compliance label attached to the chassis at the factory, and a matching label stamped into the muffler. It’s illegal to replace the muffler with one that lacks the label or to modify the legal muffler in any way to produce more noise. But police officers can only enforce the law if the system is first adopted by a town, city, or state. MECALM believes the EPA system is “the most cost effective, practical, and fair way” to curb loud motorcycles. The system is used successfully in several cities nationwide, most notably Denver, which adopted it in 2007.

MECALM’s second goal is requiring all motorcycles in Maine to display a vehicle inspection sticker. According to figures issued by the state, about 40% of the 50,000 motorcycles registered in the state of Maine go uninspected each year. Most people who own cars and trucks realize that if they drive with a loud, defective muffler they will likely be stopped by a police officer and get a traffic ticket. Many loud motorcycles have no muffler at all or have a muffler with most or all of the sound-reducing baffles removed. Yet they are seldom, if ever, stopped by the police for being too loud. MECALM believes all motorists, regardless of what type of vehicle they operate, should be treated equally by the police.

MECALM contends most motorcycle operators who evade inspection do so because their exhaust systems have been illegally altered to create excessive noise. Non-inspected bikes are hard to detect, however, because current Maine law only requires operators to carry proof of inspection with them, but not to display it on the bike.

MECALM believes requiring a visible inspection sticker on motorcycles will lead to far greater compliance; safer, quieter and cleaner bikes; and easier and fairer enforcement of inspection laws.

MECALM’s goal is to reduce both noise and air pollution, to preserve the state’s clean air and restore the natural soundscape of our towns and cities. It’s estimated that a single motorcycle operating with an open exhaust system, such as drag pipes which are only legal for off road use, emits as many harmful toxins into the air as 200 or more of today’s typical automobiles.

The health effects of being exposed to loud noise have been widely documented. According to the national organization NoiseOff, “People exposed to noise pollution suffer from hearing loss, sleep deprivation, chronic fatigue, anxiety, hostility, depression and hypertension. World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, United Nations and numerous scientific and medical publications recognize noise pollution and its deleterious effects . The intense sound caused by loud motorcycles easily triggers an involuntary stress response commonly known as ‘fight or flight.’ This results in the secretion of adrenaline, with ensuing spikes in cardio-respiratory rates, muscle tension and elevated blood pressure.”

MECALM urges all Maine citizens who want to curb excessively loud motorcycles to contact their local state representatives and senators immediately to urge them to support LD1675. Although the roads are quiet at the moment, thanks to winter’s cold temperatures, the legislature will be acting in the next few weeks and months. Contact information for all legislators can be found at the legislature’s website.

MECALM came into existence in 2009 after an op-ed piece on the issue written by a concerned Portland resident and published in the Portland Press Herald brought attention to the issue statewide.

MECALM believes passage of a statewide law would be simpler and cleaner than trying to pass ordinances town by town, and would provide a uniform statewide standard that would be easier for police to enforce, and motorcyclists to comply with.

MECALM stresses that it is no way an anti-motorcycle group and fully supports the right of all Mainers who wish to ride safely, legally, quietly and respectfully. MECALM is prepared to work cooperatively with groups as diverse as the Maine State Police and the United Bikers of Maine to achieve a reasonable, fair and easily enforceable solution to the scourge of loud motorcycle noise.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. alan vaccaro permalink
    August 12, 2010 6:10 pm

    Making frivolous laws and attatching reasoning like having spikes in cardio-respirtory rates and hypertension from motorcycle noise is taking away rights and angering motorcycle enthusiasts which in turn causes more spikes and hypertension than “exhaust” could ever achieve.I challenge anyone to do something positive instead of attacking and keep in mind, for every action there is a reaction.Think positive and try posting signs to ride quietly in your neighborhood and use the many laws in place already.

    Bikers do a lot of great things for many families and causes to benefit all of us. Every group has bad apples,don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

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