Letter: Portland needs more than signs to fight motorcycle noise

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It’s certainly good news that a motorcycle dealer is offering free “pipe down” signs to the city of Portland. I hope that these are effective in quieting down the many loud bikers that plague the city.

Many folks assume that motorcycles are naturally loud, but they aren’t loud unless a number of laws are violated by the machine’s owner.

Since 1983, all new motorcycles are required to have an Environmental Protection Agency noise compliance label attached to the chassis, and a matching label stamped into the muffler. It’s illegal to replace the certified exhaust with one that isn’t certified, or to modify the legal muffler to make more noise. In 2008, there were about 50,000 motorcycles registered in Maine and during the same year, only about 30,000 of the required annual safety inspection stickers were issued to these motorcycles.

It’s also illegal to operate a motor vehicle, including motorcycles, on a public road without a muffler. Many Harley Davidson motorcycles are operated with open pipes (designed for racing and illegal for street use) and have no muffler. These illegal exhaust systems effectively disable the air pollution equipment, which is a violation of federal law. It’s also a Class E crime in Maine to render inoperable the air pollution equipment.

Sen. Nancy Sullivan has introduced an emergency bill that will enable Maine to adopt and easily enforce the EPA label system. Her bill will help us to reduce this needless and illegal noise.

Andy Ford, Maine Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles