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EDITORIAL

Illegally Loud Motorcycles Are A Scourge

Editorial

The Hartford Courant

8:03 PM EDT, September 6, 2013

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A Wethersfield constituent recently called state Sen. John Fonfara to complain of screamingly loud motorcycle noise on Routes 5 and 15, which her property abuts. Mr. Fonfara had not only heard the complaint before, he can sometimes hear the noise from his home in the South End of Hartford.

As is said of the weather, more people talk about noise than do anything about it. Sen. Fonfara at least has tried. In each of the last two legislative sessions, he has introduced bills that require that a motorcycle built after Jan. 1, 2013, bear a stamp certifying that it meets Environmental Protection Agency sound requirements.

Motorcycles are manufactured to meet the 80-decibel EPA standard. But some riders remove mufflers or doctor them so their bikes make a mighty roar. Constant loud noise is a documented health hazard as well as a world-class annoyance. If the small number of very loud bikers are attempting to attract attention, we wish they would get the attention of the police.

But stopping this practice has proven difficult. Many states including Connecticut and some municipalities have motorcycle noise limits, but it takes a major commitment of time and resources to enforce noise ordinances, and many police departments put it low on the triage ladder. Connecticut's law depends on the speed of the vehicle and road surface, making it a challenge to enforce.

The motorcycle industry understands that excessive noise is one of its worst public relations problems. Two major groups, the American Motorcyclists Association and the Motorcycle Industry Council, have developed a standard method of testing bikes and have helped create model legislation based on this system. Maine adopted it this spring, the first state to do so.

However it is accomplished — peer pressure, public education, new laws — obnoxiously loud vehicles need to be quieted. Sen. Fonfara says he's staying on the case and we wish him success.