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Road test

Tribune file photo

Some delegates also objected to motorcycles being singled out, while trucks and other noisy vehicles won’t be affected

Green light for noisy motorcycle road tests

Guelph has joined two other Ontario communities in extending the reach of their noise bylaws to include the roar from unusually loud motorcycles.
On a 10-2 vote, council approved a noise bylaw amendment that will allow police to compel owners of very loud bikes to submit to a roadside noise test.
Council’s decision on Monday came after hearing from four local motorcyclists opposed to the change and from a national motorcycle industry spokesperson who strongly supports it.
All new motorcycles comply with noise regulations, said the industry spokesperson.      “Problems arise only when people decide to make modifications or buy after-market products that make their bikes much more noisy,” said  Luc Fournier.   He is director of communications for the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council, which represents almost all manufacturers selling motorcycles in Canada.
His group is pushing for laws like Guelph’s noise bylaw amendment to be passed across the country, Fournier said, noting that in Ontario the communities of Oakville and Caledon have already done so.
Motorcyclist Bill Kerr told council he has been in highway situations where he had to “crack my pipes” to alert car drivers to his presence. “Loud pipes do save lives,” he said.
Fournier disputed this, saying “we have yet to see any scientific evidence” that motorcyclists are safer when they’re on loud bikes.
Kerr also complained about the proposed $300 fine for violations of the noise bylaw amendment. “What is this, a tax grab?” he asked.
The other motorcyclists who addressed city council echoed Kerr’s safety worries or voiced concerns about how the bylaw change could affect “vintage” motorcycles.
They also objected to motorcycles being singled out, while trucks and other noisy vehicles won’t be affected.
The reason the bylaw is being changed only for motorcycles is that no “simple and effective” noise test, like the one for motorcycles, exists yet for cars and trucks, says a city staff report.
Other types of vehicles could be brought under the noise bylaw “when an appropriate measuring process is available,” the report says.
Coun. Ian Findlay, the chair of council’s operations, transit and emergency services committee, said the bylaw amendment will be enforced primarily by Guelph Police. Unlike city bylaw officers, police have the power to pull over motorcycle riders.
The bylaw will give police “a softer option” than charging motorcyclists under the provincial Highway Traffic Act offence of causing unnecessary noise, Findlay said. And while laying this provincial offence depends on the “subjective” opinion of a police officer, the bylaw offence will depend on testing equipment that provides an objective measure of noise, he said.
Coun. Bob Bell, who said he gets quite a few complaints from constituents about noisy trucks and motorcycles, supported the bylaw change.
“I think there is an enormous appetite (among Guelph residents) for their local streetscapes to be as quiet as possible,” Bell said.
Voting against the bylaw change were councillors Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach.
“I just believe this is more government, and I’m a less government kind of guy,” Guthrie told council.

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