Greece to crack down on noisy motorcycles
> Meaghan M. McDermott . Staff writer . September 7, 2010
> Greece police have a message for motorcyclists: Pipe down.
> Responding to a spate of complaints about noisy motorcyclists rumbling
> and roaring around town, the department this summer started cracking
> down on illegal noise-makers.
> During July and August, the police department started holding stationary
> and roving checkpoints to combat motorcyclists running with illegal
> equipment and violating safety laws. More are planned throughout the
> "It has been more of an educational process, for our officers and for
> the public," said Police Chief Todd Baxter. Officers with the
> department's Traffic Enforcement Unit attended special training on
> motorcycle safety and equipment violations during the early summer
> months. "We are out there doing some enforcement, but we're also there
> to educate."
> At issue: illegal mufflers that ramp up motorcycle noise levels from a
> legal 80 decibels (for bikes manufactured after 1986) to levels that can
> top an ear-splitting 100 decibels. That's the difference between what it
> sounds like next to a running garbage disposal and the sound standing
> about three feet away from a jackhammer.
> From Maine to California, motorcycle noise is a hot topic.
> California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering signing into law a
> bill requiring all bikes on the road in his state to display that EPA
> stamp. Maine this summer made it illegal to operate a motorcycle with an
> exhaust system "that is noticeably louder than similar vehicles in the
> Greece is the latest front.
> "Motorcycles are built with factory installed (muffler) pipes and
> they're made to make the motorcycle quieter," said Greece Police Capt.
> Patrick Phelan. "If you make any alterations to those pipes or change to
> non-factory pipes, that's illegal."
> Indeed, under federal law, factory motorcycle pipes are stamped with an
> Environmental Protection Agency seal and it's illegal to tamper with
> those pipes. And, state law prohibits motorcycles "equipped with an
> exhaust system that has been modified in a manner that will amplify or
> increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that
> emitted by the exhaust system originally installed on the vehicle."
> But while the rumbling, throaty roar of a well-tuned Harley-Davidson
> with non-stock pipes or the screaming whine of a racing bike with a
> modified muffler can grate on some residents living near popular riding
> spots, such sounds can be "music to the ears" of a serious biker, said
> Eric Carlston of Rochester, president of the Monroe County Chapter of
> American Bikers Aimed Toward Education.
> "But I would never advocate that persons be disrespectful of their
> neighbors and communities," he said. Riders "need to be sensible about
> their equipment and the way they ride."
> Nevertheless, he chafes at the idea of police checkpoints. He'd rather
> police stick to pulling over drivers who are clearly breaking noise
> "We have the view that here and anywhere else, such checkpoints are
> illegal," he said, noting that if police are going to crack down on
> noise ordinances, they need to make sure they're doing so
> across-the-board and also handing out tickets for loud car and truck
> exhaust and for "boom cars" with loud stereos.
> He also questions if the federal and state regulations on motorcycle
> noises go too far.
> "Why is it you have to have a stock exhaust on a motorcycle when you
> don't on any other vehicle?" he said. "Isn't that discriminatory? That's
> one standard for us and another for everybody else."
> Heavy-handed enforcement of motorcycle laws is just another way
> Americans are losing their freedoms, he said.
> "The common denominator for every motorcyclist out there - whether
> they're riding a custom chopper, a BMW or a formula bike - is a love and
> appreciation for freedom," he said.
> Phelan, who has owned his own motorcycles in the past and is part of the
> Greece Police Department's motorcycle unit, said the department's
> crackdown isn't about being unfair.
> "It's not that there's a problem with motorcyclists," he said. "What it
> is, is some of these guys out there giving law-abiding riders a bad
> name. Our hope is really to do more education about this and communicate
> to people so we can get local riders to buy in. It's not that we want to
> come out and write tickets - we want you to follow the law."
> Not allowed
> Greece police are stepping up enforcement of state vehicle and traffic
> law as it pertains to motorcycles. That doesn't just mean bikes that
> violate the noise ordinances, but also riders who violate safety
> requirements. Some of New York's rules for motorcycles:
> # Straight pipes, exhaust pipes with removed or removable baffle plates
> or screens, or exhaust systems that have been modified in any way that
> makes the bike noisier than when it was manufactured are prohibited.
> # Handlebars or grips may not be any higher than the height of the
> operator's shoulders.
> # Motorcyclists must wear American National Standard Institute-compliant
> eye protection. Goggles or face shields are recommended. Sunglasses or
> eyeglasses that are not approved safety glasses are prohibited.
> # Riders must wear U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmets.
> Violation of any of the above laws may be punishable by a fine of $100,
> up to 30 days in jail, or both.