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Motorcycle group works to change riders' ‘loud' habits

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 13. 2012 11:01PM
Manchester police officer Andrew Vincent, left, helps Mark Aquino, right, who oversees motor vehicle enforcement, as they explain the process of testing a motorcyclist's exhaust pipes for loudness. The motorcycle was on Cedar Street, just off Elm Street, on Friday in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - New Hampshire Motorcycle Rights Organization President Candy Alexander said her group agrees with individuals and organizations who want to put an end to excessively loud motorcycle noise.

'There are some motorcyclists who like to show off,' said Alexander. She said her group wants to curb the offensive noise 'just as badly as the others, but we're trying to take a reasonable approach.'

Alexander said the motorcycle noise level bill introduced by Rep. Michele Peckham, R-North Hampton, is 'not practical or enforceable.'

The bill, which lowers the allowable decibel level of idling motorcycles from 106 to 92, has been passed by the House and Senate and awaits action by Gov. John Lynch. It would go into effect in January 2013.

Alexander took issue with a recent New Hampshire Union Leader story, which she said ignored the efforts of a working group made up of representatives of the motorcycle community, the state Departments of Transportation and Safety, Seacoast law enforcement, the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association and motorcycle dealerships.

The group spent a year and a half working on the problem, she said, and ultimately decided: 'It was best to follow industry standards and testing.'

The New Hampshire Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles (NH CALM) was pushing for adoption of the Environmental Protection Agency's 82-decibel level. Alexander said that level was designed for motorcycle manufacturers and the labeled muffler was only good for one year or 3,750 miles.

'You would have to get a new label or exhaust,' Alexander said.

The House Transportation Committee, chaired by NHMRO co-founder and Rep. Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, amended the bill to 92 decibels.

Alexander said it's how people ride that causes trouble. 'Riders have to be educated ... to ride respectfully,' she said. If you step on the gas while in lower gear, 'the RPMs go up, the exhaust is louder,' she said.

That's what is happening when motorcyclists are road racing between traffic lights or stop signs, she said.

'It comes down to riding behavior,' Alexander said. Changing that behavior is a challenge because it's a habit.

'It has to be addressed by the community as a whole,' she said, with inspection stations doing their job and law enforcement doing theirs 'by cracking down on the knuckleheads.'

NHMRO is doing its part to educate riders, she said, using social media, motorcycle shows and face-to-face contact at meetings.

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