Every other day, we post stories of law enforcement acting in the most unreasonable ways against bikers. This time around, though, we have a little sense of reason and rationale being shown by the Portsmouth Police Department. Although a lot of bikers wouldn’t like what they’re planning, they’re at least being reasonable about it.
New Hampshire is famous for its large and loud cruisers.
And the problem (or not, depending on who you ask!) becomes all the more aggravated every year during the Laconia Motorcycle Week, which is organized in June every year. Hundreds of thousands of riders flock to the city during the rally, and a lot of them have large and loud exhausts.
That becomes a cause for concern for a lot of local residents, especially the non-riders.
This is why to tackle the “problem” the Portsmouth Police Department has planned to train two officers who’ll primarily be tasked with issuing tickets to riders found violating the state noise laws. Nearly every state has noise laws, but they’re seldom enforced. And where they are, more often than not, they’re done in a manner which shouts profiling.
There’s currently a law pending in the New Hampshire Legislature that seeks to prohibit motorcycle-only checkpoints.
Such a law is really necessary while enforcing laws that specifically apply to motorcycles and riders. Robert Merner, Chief of Portsmouth Police Department, says that they intend to “target loud bikes individually”. If the department sticks to their Chief’s words, the enforcement of these noise laws shouldn’t result in any profiling issues.
The best part is that officers wouldn’t get a free hand in issuing tickets.
One of the problems riders often face when these noise laws is enforced is that it’s done arbitrarily. Many towns and cities leave it on their cops to “subjectively” decide if a motorcycle is “too loud”. This often results in confrontations, and the ticketing of motorcycles that may actually be within the legal limit. This is why the SAE J2825 test was created to measure the noise level of a motorcycle. It was updated in 2009. And since then, the AMA has made the basis for a model legislation it has proposed, and has been lobbying for.
The test lays down a pretty particular and standard method to measure noise levels.
If tickets are issued only after the test, gone is the subjectivity and discretion from the cops’ hands which they use to harass bikers. The standard allows motorcycles to have a sound level of up to 92 decibels while idling. A maximum sound level (while revving) of 96 decibels is allowed for motorcycles with one or two cylinders, and 100 decibels for motorcycles with three or four cylinders. The test also lays down a standard procedure to measure the sound levels. The testing equipment is to be placed at an angle of 45-degrees, 20 inches away, from the exhaust of the motorcycle. The measurements are taken at specified RPMs.
The AMA is completely behind this.
An AMA position statement on the issue reads:
“The AMA believes that few other factors contribute more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles.”
What are your thoughts about this? Let us know in the comments section below.