In recent years the Kootenays have experienced very high numbers of motorcycles. While many users obey the speed limits and comply with existing laws on mufflers, others do not. Some riders modify their factory-built mufflers to purposely increase their noise.
For instance, some motorcycles with modified mufflers emit noise over 100 decibels, while Vancouver and Victoria limit noise to 70 decibels in industrial areas. Due to the high volume of motorcycle traffic in our communities and on our highways, this has become a serious disturbance to community peace. Although there are regulations in place to ensure proper mufflers and regulate speed, they are apparently not enforced by the police.
For this reason 4,300 people have signed a petition in the Kootenays asking the government for increased enforcement of the existing laws. Quite a few motorcyclists have signed the petition.
Some residents have expressed concerns that, by specifying motorcycle noise and speed, the petition will discourage motorcyclists from coming to our communities, and thereby diminish the tourist trade. Residents of our communities who form the foundation of support for our local merchants should not have to forgo the peaceful and quiet enjoyments of their homes in order to increase business profits.
In September 2011 West Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert raised the issue of motorcycle noise in the BC legislature. The matter was ultimately referred to the Ministry of Transportation, which in turn looked to the BC Association of the Chiefs of Police for their recommendation.
On Nov. 16, 2011, a resolution passed by the BC Association of Police Chiefs recommended that the province adopt: “A Society of Automotive Engineers standard known as J2825, developed through Transport Canada outlining the testing procedure of motorcycle exhaust noise exists [which] has been accepted and is in use in other jurisdictions in Ontario, New Brunswick, Albera and the State of Maine.”
According to the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council, this procedure was developed in consultation with major motocycle manufacturers, and it allows law enforcement officers to measure the noise level of motorcycles accurately, easily and quickly. This makes the noise laws easily enforceable.
In January 2012 the BC Association of Police Chiefs fowarded its resolution to Blair Lekstrom, then BC Minister of Transportation, for consideration. To date we’ve seen no results.
Oct. 27, 2015: The Kootenay petition requesting enforcement of speed limits and muffler regulations was presented to the BC Legislature by the Hon. Katrine Conroy, MLA, and referred to Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone.
January 2016: The Regional District of Central Kootenay agreed to support the petitioners with a letter asking for enforcement of regulations in regard to mufflers on motorcycles; also to put forward a similar request by the Kootenay Boundary Local Governments ; and further, to carry this issue to the Union of BC Municipalities.
Kootenay residents are not alone in recognizing the exceptional noise problems associated with motorcycles.
Efforts to bring motorcycles under compliance with standards for noise have been going on across the Continent, across Canada and in BC for some years.
Gloria Lisgo, New Denver