SOUND AND FURY
MEASURES ARE COMING IN TO CURB NOISY MOTORCYCLES. DO YOU HAVE A VIEW?
The current maximum permitted noise level for motorcycles is 82-86 decibels, depending on the engine size. In practice most traffic police use 90 decibels as the limit to allow for less-than-new exhaust systems. This is relevant because the sound of motorcycle exhausts seems to have come into particular focus in many European countries lately as a problem, especially in urban areas. So, duly, as is the way of the world, there are plans to put legislation in place to curb the noise.
The noise doesn’t seem to be an issue in rural areas, where motorbikes are few and far between and pass by quickly, noisily or otherwise. However in towns and cities it is becoming a thing.
So governments in Europe are thinking of ways in which they can control the sound of passing bikes. The first step in France has been to install microphone systems on the streets, initially just to measure the volume of passing traffic. Eventually and inevitably, this data will be used to penalise loud vehicles which are making a lot of noise in built up areas.
In Germany there are now signs which flash at drivers who are creating too much noise – rather like the slow down signs here which flash when you are driving faster than the speed limit.
Here the government is rolling out noise cameras which currently only pick out drivers if they are emitting too much noise, but will inevitably end up identifying and then fining them for breaking legal decibel limits.
You may be thinking that this might all be paving the way towards the silent world of electric motorcycles, but in turn electric vehicles are under scrutiny too. There was some talk a couple of years ago which said that electric vehicles are 40% more likely to hit a pedestrian or a cyclist because they are too quiet and nobody hears them coming so gets no warning.
At the end of the day it all comes down to the driver or rider of the particular vehicle. Some like to make a lot of noise, some like to creep along silently and some like just to growl their engine at the lights or when filtering to make sure that a Smidsy driver wakes up and knows they’re there.
What do you think? Is a certain amount of noise a safety feature for a motorcyclist? Or should the decibel limit be upped as we travel forward into a silent future?
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