December 1, 2009
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Albany: The Wisconsin state legislature has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for considering a resolution declaring Harley-Davidson to be the state’s “official motorcycle.” Harley-Davidson, founded in 1903, is headquartered in Milwaukee. The resolution was introduced by Senator Spencer Coggs and Representative Leon Young, both of Milwaukee.
Assembly Bill 596 has thirteen co-sponsors in the Assembly and five co-sponsors in the Senate. The bill “designates the Harley-Davidson as the Wisconsin state motorcycle and requires the Wisconsin Blue Book to include that information.”
George Atwood, a resident of Milton, Wisconsin (near Janesville), states that it is completely inappropriate for the state of Wisconsin to honor Harley-Davidson: “I find the noise and percussions from the loud Harleys distressing and tormenting! When you hear a loud Harley, you are actually hearing the explosions from within the motor without the dampening effect of a proper muffler. That’s 5 to 50 explosions per second, depending on speed. That’s the sound of a battlefield!”
Atwood also stated that “Harleys hurt people. The noise stresses people. The noise ruins the quality of life in our neighborhoods and nation. It frightens and intimidates people. It leads to hearing loss, higher medical costs, lost productivity, and loss of peace of mind.”
In addition, Mr. Atwood observes that “noise is used as a means of coercion and torture. Why would our state want to be associated with a symbol with such destructive potential?”
Atwood observed that there is a psychological element to Harley ridership: “Harley is more than a motorcycle; it is a state of mind, an idea, an emotion, a brand cult. Harleys make insecure people feel strong, invincible, and united in a mystical fellowship. Harley riders aspire to a brotherhood yearning for connectedness.”
Unfortunately, though, the Harley cult has come to represent disorder and noise: “Harley now stands for noise! Harley stands for frightening and intimidating people. It stands for arrogance, torment, callousness, defying the law, and drunkenness. As Americans and Wisconsinites, we believe in the rule of law. Harley promotes defiance of the law.”
The Milton resident also noted that “the Wisconsin tourism industry promotes the idea of ‘escaping to the peaceful north woods.’ How can we reconcile that image with the reality of thunderous Harleys blasting through our streets, highways, and parks?”
Every year, Atwood states, several hundred bikers in black leather descend on Wisconsin’s state capitol in Madison, to lobby against legislation to protect the public from noisy Harley riders. In Atwood’s view, Wisconsin legislators should be concerned with the health, well-being, and safety of the state’s citizens: “Instead of honoring noise terrorism, our representatives should protect us from the awful noise of Harley riders.”
Noise Free America is a national 501c3 citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Madison, Wisconsin; the state of Indiana; and Kalamazoo, Michigan.