by Ted Rueter
Rapid City Journal
August 14, 2010
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for participating in this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Rounds rode in the 8th annual Mayor’s Ride at Sturgis, an event in its 70th year that , according to the Associated Press, was “expected to attract as many as 750,000 people, making it home to the highest concentration ever of chrome, leather, and tattoos.”
In reality, the Sturgis event is probably the largest concentration ever of lawbreakers, and Rounds gave aid and comfort to this massive lawbreaking.
The federal Noise Control Act of 1972 states that it is illegal for motorcyclists to remove or alter their exhaust for the purpose of making additional noise.
The Act also limits motorcycle noise to 82 decibels. In 1983, the EPA enacted a label match-up program, which requires that motorcycles have a stamp proving that the factory exhaust has not been altered.
Most motorcycles on the road today have illegal exhausts. Many people seem to think that motorcycles are naturally noisy. This is not the case. Motorcycles are quiet when they leave the factory. They are obnoxiously loud because of the deliberate, illegal actions of their owners.
Instead of celebrating ear-splitting noise, Rounds should have deployed the state police to issue hundreds of thousands of citations to noise violators. Instead, he condoned the world’s largest concentration of noise criminals. Unlike South Dakota, city governments in Denver and Boston are taking action to reduce illegal motorcycle noise by enforcing the EPA label match-up program.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a major political figure has made a disgraceful appearance at Sturgis. In August 2008, U.S. Sen. John McCain, speaking before 50,000 roaring Harleys, declared, “This is my first time here, but I recognize that sound. It’s the sound of freedom!”
Ron Czapala, founder of NoBoomers, commented that “the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a celebration of noise. Law-abiding motorcyclists are outnumbered by people who go out of their way to disturb the peace with illegally modified exhaust systems or straight pipes. Motorcyclists claim the loud mufflers provide safety because other motorists can hear them coming. I guess that explains why they rev their ear-splitting engines even while sitting at a stop sign.”
Czapala also noted that a study found “77 percent of all accident hazards approach the motorcycle from in front of the rider. However, most of the sound from loud mufflers is concentrated behind the bike. This negates the ‘loud pipes save lives’ mantra. If these bikers were really concerned about their safety, they would wear helmets and bright colored clothing to make themselves more visible. Instead, they want to be obnoxiously loud to draw attention to themselves.”
Robert King, a Florida community activist whose life has been turned upside down because of unregulated noise, states that, “When a local business or gathering place becomes identified as ‘biker friendly,’ the surrounding neighbors immediately lose their ability to live a normal life. Allowing hundreds of thousands of illegal exhausts in one location creates an ungodly nuisance which robs an area of its peaceful existence.”
Past winners of the Noisy Dozen award include the Wisconsin State Legislature, the Fairfax, Virginia Harley-Davidson dealership, and Concerned Citizens for Motorcycle Safety in New York City.
This article is written by Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America, a national non-profit organization opposed to noise pollution based in Albany, New York. He can be reached at www.noisefree.org.