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Running on Fumes

Peer Pressure and Motorcycle Sound

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In a recent press release, AMA Outlines Position on Sound Regulations, AMA CEO Rob Dingman correctly identifies the biggest threat to the future of motorcycling as loud exhausts.

The AMA supports self-regulation, “we have to get our own house in order, and by that I mean all riders must take an active role in the self-regulation of sound,” says Dingman in the PR. But how should riders do this? Dingman goes on to say in the interview:

“The first thing we have to do - through publicity, peer pressure and support of appropriate sound ordinances - is tell our friends and acquaintances who ride loud bikes and OHVs to tone it down.”

Makes sense. But peer pressure? Really? What sort of peer pressure exactly works on the loud pipes save lives crowd.

Can you imagine it? A scrawny Honda Rebel owner ambling into a biker bar and, after flipping up his modular helmet, saying to some new acquaintances: “’Scuse me fellas, I just got out of my MSF course and couldn’t help but notice that some of your motorcycles seem to be running exhaust systems that are not in compliance with EPA sound regulations. Anyway, I just wanted to convey my support of the AMA position that you fellas ‘tone it down’ some.”

Wow… There would already be a memorial fund by the time the dude finished saying “regulations.”

Sure peer pressure may change a few minds, but is it an effective means to regulate any public rule, motorcycle-related or not? Let’s apply this logic to some laws that motorcyclists want to implement the other direction.

For example, how can we get drivers to stop talking on cell phones? Forget tickets with big fat fines, I think drivers can regulate themselves… through peer pressure?

Let’s face it. There is only one kind of enforcement that works when Americans get behind the wheel, or handlebars - tickets and fines. It sucks. It’s legalistic and reflects the litigious nature of our modern society. But it’s also effective.

The proposed New York City Motorcycle Sound Law, which the AMA is against and mentions in its PR, may target motorcycles without addressing other sources of common noise pollution; but fair or not, once implemented it will succeed in getting some loud motorcycles off the streets.

More effective, one would assume, than peer pressure.
Post Tags: ama sound, motorcycle sound regulation, motorcycle legal threats
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Comments
Todd -Sick of Loud Bikes May 2, 2009 02:51 AM
Thank god for some responsible motorcyclists!! When I see a quiet motorcycle I literally have an urge to stop them and shake their hand. Every Sat. and Sun. we get well over 100 loud bikes that we can hear over anything in our home over any activity, often over 200 of these scofflaws, yes mostly Harleys. We live over 200 ft. from a moderately trafficked 2 lane road! There is absolutely no way that self regulation is going to work, are you familiar with the attitudes of most of these people? Almost every Harley on the road has been so modified, which is clearly illegal according to the noise control act as well as title 40, section 205, subparts D, and E. Here is the advertisement from the Harley dealership near me, in Fairfax, VA, "“Maybe you just want that awesome earth-quaking, window-rattling exhaust that sets off car alarms as you ride on by. Want to make men dive out of the way and women grab their children and head inside and lock the doors? We can help with that too!”; 2 out of 18 advertised “performance packages" are described as “street legal”. This in a heavily populated area, what a complete joke. I am not against motorcyclists, I do get so pissed at these idiots that I would like to string up some chicken wire. This noise has acute and chronic health effects, well documented. See the article at www.noiseoff.org/pipes which provides a very good overall description of this growing problem and seemingly only effective solution, based on long standing law developed to regulate this, but never enforced. Thank you for riding quiet and respectfully, I can't say how much I appreciate it. Here is a very good illustration of the noise we get in our neighborhood, which also leads into a national park, past recreation areas, and important historical sites visited by over 1 million people per year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FZwMOFkGTg
Bob -How about ;Loud Pipes Get DUIs? February 14, 2009 08:38 AM
without probable cause, you cant be pulled over for a traffic stop if those pipes are violating a noise ordinance, you can .08000000001 BAC 'you're under arrst'
Don -LoudPipes February 12, 2009 01:34 PM
I agree. You should not be subject to unfair laws that single out one group, while ignoring the same behavior by other groups. That is unjust and should be resisted. You are correct, the local yahoos that wake us up at night with the glass packs on their pickups are no different than the loud bikers. One in the same, and should have to abide by the same common sense laws. The same goes for leaf blowers in a neighborhood, etc. Your right to make noise only goes as far as my ears. Why is that so hard to understand? The simple fact that we are seeing laws like this proposed across the country is cold, hard proof that our peers, the other people who share the road with us, are exerting the very peer pressure you speak of because they will no longer wait for us to police our own community. The "problem" bikers like to think they are apart from the community at large, much to their peril, as well as ours. Thanks guys!
Frank -Look at me! I'm loud, I must be a cool biker! February 12, 2009 12:43 PM
Bart, it's not just the newbies who want the sound tuned down. Those of us who've been riding our whole lives want it too. I've rode loud bikes. They don't protect you any more than a good modulating headlight and loud horn.(less, actually)A brightly colored bike or jacket do much more for your chances of being noticed (and avoided) than blaring exhaust.Of course, don't tell the black leather crowd that. I'm willing to bet that many of the 'Loud Pipes Brigade' are also part of the 'no helmet,shorts and flip-flops crowd'. It's the "biker" who spends more time picking out his outfit than riding who wants to be loud. To many of these "bikers", the motorcycle is a fashion statement, not a lifestyle. When we, as motorcyclists, speak out against the noisy exhaust, we are continuing progress in elevating our lifestyle past the general public's concept of what motorcycling is. When lawyers, doctors and accountants joined the fold, they helped change the perception of Motorcycles. Why is riding responsibly and politely viewed as a secondary issue to attention getting fashion?
Bikers4BillSponsors@gmail.com -Bikers should band together, not point fingers February 11, 2009 01:48 PM
Sure, tickets are effective. But there are better ways than more laws, more fines, and more reason to get pulled over. It isn't funny to see non-riders stereotyping bikers. But it's really sad when bikers do it to themselves, Bart. By peer pressure, the AMA means just that, by peers. Comparing riders of different lifestyles may be funny when the subject is humourous. But when motorcyclists are being attacked by non-riders, it ain't. And speaking of effective, bikers can either talk about it or they can do something about it. Regardless of how you feel about noisy pipes or different kinds of riders, it helps to stick together on common issues. That's exactly what we do at "Bikers for Bill Sponsors" (google us), and we get results, too.
Don -Loud Pipes February 11, 2009 01:35 PM
Folks, if you think anything other than hefty fines and stiff enforcement will get these neanderthals to switch to sensible pipes, you just haven't spent any time around them. Loud Pipes Saves Lives is just a cover for Loud Pipes Make People Look At ME!
WilCon -Sound Law February 11, 2009 08:52 AM
Remember the NY law isn't just about loud pipes. The AMA is against because it eliminates the ability to replace the stock exhaust even if it's damaged due to time and/or accident with anything but stock. Since all other motor vehicles have this option at their disposal it is indeed biased, targeted and discriminatory in nature. I am fine with sound laws and my aftermarket manufacturers being allowed to supply us options within these constraints. What I do not accept is a blanket ban on my ability to modify to suit my tastes, a law that violates the very things our country was founded on (equality), and a scheme to make money from the common motorcyclist in fees for infractions and manufacturers for new testing standards.
Paul -There is only one kind of enforcement that works ... February 11, 2009 04:54 AM
The difference being, of course, that cell phone usage while driving is a safety issue, while loud pipes are annoying. I agree that loud pipes do the community no good and is poor ambassadorship for the motorcycling community... I run dead stock pipes on my very quiet bike, myself... but please, can we gain some perspective? I'm the first to admit that rather than saving lives, loud pipes infuriate people to the point where they start to desire to hurt bikers. On the other hand, government does a crappy job with anything it lays its hands on. Give them a chance to self-regulate.