RDCK targets motorcycle noise

The regional district will ask the justice minister to enforce motorcycle noise laws in the West Kootenay.

The regional district will ask the Justice Minister to curb motorcycle noise in the West Kootenay.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay voted Thursday to ask the province’s Minister of Justice to enforce laws that prohibit noisy motorcycles.

The move came after a delegation of residents, headed by Gloria Lisgo of Silverton, presented a 4,300-name petition to the board in December. She told the Star she is happy with the decision.

“It is important because it is a huge issue for many residents of the Kootenays,” she said. “I am delighted this has elicited a lot of conversation and I am not surprised, because most people I speak to have the same issues I do.”

The regional district board also voted to ask the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments to write to the minister.

Lisgo said the request is simple: enforce regulations under the Motor Vehicle Act that prohibit the kind of tampering required to make a muffler louder. She said the group is also pursuing other avenues but would not elaborate.

Group member Pat Severyn, a retired Nelson Police Department officer, is also pleased with the decision.

“The law is the law,” he said. “We are not reinventing the wheel here. This law has been around for a long time. We just want to give the police the instruments and the ability to enforce it.”

In 2009, the Motorcycle Industry Council and Society of Automotive Engineers developed the SAE J2825 sound test for motorcycles, a standard that enables law enforcement officers to accurately measure noise emissions on the spot with a portable sound meter. The standard recommends a decibel limit of 92 or 100 decibels depending on the number of cylinders in the motor.

This standard, in response to a growing number of petitions and complaints, is being implemented by several municipalities across the country. Calgary recently decided to start ticketing any vehicle louder that 95 decibels and in Edmonton a first offence results in a fine of $250, for the second offence $500, and for the third, a compulsory court appearance.

Media articles about this issue across the country elicit a lot of reader interest, ranging from the anti-noise outrage that prompted the West Kootenay petition, to concern that the petitions and laws target motorcycles unfairly. The applicable sections of the regulations BC Motor Vehicle Act refer to vehicle noise in general. The regional district’s letter to the minister will refer to motorcycle noise in particular.

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