July 1, 2014

Noise Free America
For immediate release

Larry Deal
[email protected]

Geoff Keller
[email protected]

Ted Rueter
[email protected]

Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill: The Pennsylvania state Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for sponsoring the state H.O.G. rally from July 31 to August 2, 2014 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The noisemaking nature of the event is broadcast by its slogan: “See the Steel, Hear the Thunder.”

Event sponsors claim that “this year’s rally motto is a tribute to the historical significance of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and the distinctive sound of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.” The mayor of Bethlehem, Robert J. Donchez, has offered the Harley owners a warm welcome: “There is so much to explore, experience, and do in Bethlehem! With sight-seeing, historic attractions, the casino, our downtown shopping, wonderful restaurants, and non-stop festivals, it may just be too much to fit into one day!”

Geoff Keller, a Noise Free America board member from Nashville, Indiana, stated that “Mayor Donchez’s endorsement of the Pennsylvania H.O.G. motorcycle rally is completely irresponsible. There will be thousands of acoustistically lawless individuals at this rally who think they have the right to illegally remove their muffler for the purpose of making as much noise as possible. Noise pollution has many serious health-related consequences; noise that is both unnecessary and illegal should not be tolerated or sanctioned by city officials. The mayor should realize that the illegal noise associated with this rally is not a one-time event. Rather, these motorcyclists are degrading the quality of life for countless Americans on an ongoing basis. Local law enforcement officials should hold these riders accountable if they have illegally tampered with or removed their muffler from the vehicle.”

Another member of Noise Free America, Larry Deal, noted that “while event organizers claim that are honoring the steel industry, the event’s real purpose is a tribute to the hordes of loud, thundering Harleys. The citizens of the Lehigh Valley should not have to put up with the ‘thunder’ those Harley riders in attendance will be imposing on them.”

Deal observed that “Harley-Davidson motorcycles do not leave the factory as rolling thunderstorms. Rather, the owners of thundering Harleys illegally modify their motorcycle’s exhaust system, in violation of federal and state law.”

Pennsylvania’s motorcycle exhaust noise law is very weak and unenforceable. Deal added that “the muffler law is likewise weak and not enforced. The riders of thundering loud motorcycles take advantage of that weakness and easily get away with violating the law and spewing out excessive noise wherever they travel. The state law is in serious need of improvement and enforcement if those thundering Harleys are ever to be muted. My sympathies go out to the citizens of the Lehigh Valley, who will have to bear the brunt of the unlawful thunder which the 2014 state H.O.G. rally will be bringing to their community.”

Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, stated that “municipalities who believe that hosting noisy motorcycle events will bring economic benefits are sadly mistaken. Excessive noise drives economic development away. Very few people want to live in a noisy community. Excessive noise drives out tourists, decreases property values, and gives the impression that undesirable elements are in control. Many sociologists subscribe to the ‘broken windows thesis‘–the idea that broken windows, vacant lots, and abandoned houses leads to community deterioration. Similarly, there is strong evidence for the ‘broken eardrums thesis”–the fact that excessive noise leads to community deterioration. By sanctioning this lawless, noisemaking event, Bethlehem city officials have chosen the wrong path.”

Noise Free America is a national citizens’ organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include the Pennsylvania General Assemblyand the Erie, Pennsylvania “Roar on the Shore.”