by Don Scott

St. Helena Star

May 13, 2014

It is 10 p.m. Saturday evening, and a group of extremely loud bikes just blasted by on St. Helena Highway. On weekends especially, the bikers rule the roads, as police enforcement of excess noise is nonexistent.

Last weekend there was the Tour d’ Cure bicycle event that went up St. Helena Highway, and then down Dunaweal Lane. For the duration of the race, two CHP cars were parked at the intersection of these roads with lights flashing. An officer was inside each vehicle with the motor idling, ready for action. Many very loud motorcycles passed them, and no action was taken to pursue and issue citations for illegal exhaust systems. On several occasions, I have seen Calistoga Police cars parked for very long periods of time, with an officer inside, engine idling, ready to pursue. Yet, when motorcycles go by them with obviously illegal exhaust systems, the officers do nothing.

I have requested help on quieting the upper valley, pleading with CHP, sheriff’s office, city police, city staff, and politicians. In response to my pleas, I have never been told that the motorcycle noise is within legal limits and that no law is being broken by the extremely loud bikes. Instead, I have been told that nothing can be done about it. I have been given one or more of these excuses, over and over, as to why citations cannot be issued:

1. It would be too difficult.

2. We don’t have the resources.

3. It’s not a priority.

4. It’s not in our jurisdiction.

5. This will not be addressed as long as I am the “(insert official position).”

6. We don’t want to make the bikers feel unwelcome here. To paraphrase the expression, “Don’t ask; don’t tell,” it seems what we have regarding the issue of the illegality of loud motorcycles is, “Don’t acknowledge; don’t cite.”

Don Scott