By now you know about the incident in New York City where a pack of motorcycle thugs surrounded, hectored and terrified a family in an SUV. However, the Law Of Unintended Consequences came into play and bit the bikers on the rump. Instead of brutalizing those in the SUV, one of the motorcyclists got squashed like a bug when the guy in the SUV ran over him trying to get away.
So then, the subject of motorcycles is timely and we should address our county’s problem of motorcycle noise.
Nobody minds owners of Hondas, BMWs, Yamahas and other civilized motorcycles. But we do mind another kind of motorcycle owner, owners of the roaring, snorting Harley-Davidson “hog”.
Harley owners fall into two categories: posers and greasers. Posers are gentle souls: lawyers, doctors, businessmen and retired dudes out for a weekend spin. The greasers are nasty fellows who ride beat-up motorcycles and wear filthy jackets with grotesque insignia on the backs. Although posers and greasers are light years apart in other ways, they love their hogs.
When Harleys come from the factory, they have exhaust mufflers and sound no worse than a civilized Honda. Ah, but the first thing most Harley owners do, be they posers or greasers, is rip off the mufflers to create an ear-splitting racket. A few weeks ago, a greaser on his hog pulled up next to me as I sat at Main and Avenue D, waiting for the light to change. When we got the green, the rider cracked the throttle and the Harley’s exhaust note about blew out my left ear — it rang for hours. The greaser turned left onto Main, opened the throttle and the noise could have awakened the dead. Another time it was a poser.
If I took the mufflers off my old 426 Plymouth and drove it around town, I’d get a fix-it ticket so fast it would make my head swim. But Harley owners, be they posers or greasers, seem to be getting a free pass to make all the noise they can. Why this double standard?
I asked a cop about this and he told me the Law lets Harley riders remove their mufflers with impunity. This hardly seems possible, but as I haven’t quizzed the Sheriff, I really can’t say; the cop might well be right. So what can be done? Well, a muffler exemption notwithstanding, offending Harley riders could be, and should be, cited for being public nuisances like the cretins who hold loud parties on the patio. In fact, according to The Herald, a kid with a boombox in his car got a $400+ ticket for making less noise than does the typical Harley. A couple of tickets a month and a Harley owner might want to put those mufflers back on.
Of course, if there is no special exemption for Harleys, and I suspect there isn’t, Harley owners with unmuffled exhausts should get fix-it tickets straightaway. A fix-it ticket means you must correct the problem, then present the repaired vehicle (or at least the receipt for the repairs) to the cops and if they approve, you can go on your way. Ah, but if you don’t get the fix, you can’t operate the vehicle on the public roads until you do. If you get caught riding with an outstanding fix-it ticket, the cops can haul your motorcycle to the impound lot.
A cop can’t miss an unmuffled Harley any more than the rest of us. Hearing one of those things, the cop should pull it over. “Hey, son”, says the cop, “Your bike seems to be making a lot of . . . Say, what’s that I see. No mufflers! Well son, wait right there while I get my ticket book”.
I think a little public pressure will motivate law enforcement to solve our Harley problem. If the sheriff catches the dickens from you and me, the deputies will start clamping down on these rude and noisy people. Make as much noise as those pests on Harleys and the problem will go away.
Call your sheriff today.