Denver ordinance against loud motorcycles causing noise

3:34 PM, Jul 9, 2007   |    comments
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"Generally I would always hear a lot of these motorcycles from several blocks away, when they're accelerating rapidly. I've seen a decrease in that and also I haven't had any complaints," said Officer Jim Pelloni, who is with the Denver Police Department's traffic enforcement division.

The ordinance requires motorcycle owners to keep their bikes' "noise" or sound, depending on which side of the debate a person falls on, to 82 decibels. It also requires bikes made after 1982 to carry an EPA compliance seal or sticker, as it's more commonly known, to be displayed on the pipes. The sticker would serve as verification that the pipes have been modified to meet the established decibel level. Many bikers are not complying.

"I've already spent a thousand dollars on my bike (to make it louder). Why would I spend another thousand to get it back to where it was?" asked Kelly Murphy.

From the biker perspective, loud pipes are vital for safety. Murphy says his bike idles at 105 decibels, clearly in violation of Denver's ordinance. Some bikers spend hundreds of dollars to make their bikes louder because they say it help drivers hear them when they may not be able to see them.

"I do believe loud pipes save lives and that's kind of why we do that to our bikes," said Al Galperin.

"The response to that is that if you ride safe I think you have a better chance of surviving out there than if you ride aggressively with loud motorcycle mufflers and try to bring attention to yourself," Pelloni said.

Denver Police say if bikers ride with "respect" then there will be no citations or anyone being pulled over. Pelloni says officers will not be pulling bikers over strictly because of the noise they're creating. It really lies with the compliance sticker.

"It's real simple to enforce. The officer determines that it's louder than what most motorcycles sound like based on their experience and training, they initiate the traffic stop, they inspect the motorcycle pipe. If it doesn't have the EPA stamp, they're in violation," Pelloni said.

Riders like Kelly Murphy say the ordinance just gives police another reason to pull them over. In addition to that, Murphy says it discriminates against bikers. He says many bikers are choosing to voice their opposition by avoiding Denver. They're also taking their money with them.

"We're going to take our business somewhere else. It's real easy, we walk with our wallets," Murphy said.

Murphy says many bikers are affluent business people, doctors, and attorneys.

"That's a good chunk of money there, and it's not coming to Denver," he said.

While it may be quieter in neighborhoods and on the streets, Murphy says it may be coming at a price that the City Council did not anticipate.

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