Deputy Director

Deputy Director's Report
By John Reblin 

The weather is warming up and the motorcycles are hitting the road and we are hearing bits and dribbles of noise issues already concerning motorcycles.

Last month I wrote that Illinois was working on an ordinance to limit noise around the Chicago area to a certain level. This included trucks, cars, motorcycles, sirens, and horns. You name it, all added together, the total noise for the area could only be a certain level. In my mind, I sort of scoffed at the idea of trying to limit all sound. I felt it would be pretty hard to do. Well I see on Facebook that Representative Mitchell of Illinois was introducing a bill to address motorcycle noise. It is a 3-strike bill meaning on your third ticket the bike is to be impounded. Pretty stiff punishment for loud pipes, yet I wonder how stiff the penalty is for something like driving after revocation? I am sure our friends south of the border are going to handle this as they see fit. But now in Wisconsin we have this to report ... 

We have had our issues with noise in Wisconsin over the past couple years with concerns over loud motorcycles and we have had some successes in getting around them. We were able to educate riders that throttle management can help in greatly reducing complaints. We all know the guy that sits at a stop revving the motor, hey that's why they put an idle circuit in the fuel delivery system, or when they get on a city street with high buildings they may downshift and rev the motor a little higher trying to get the "hey look at me" thing going. Don't get me wrong, I do get the "loud pipes save lives" comment. Some used their pipes because the horn on the bike is not quite loud enough to grab attention if someone starts to cross over on the freeway, if it works use it. It beats getting run over.

Last month Tim Tomann saw in the local paper that WCTC (Waukesha County Technical College) was having issues with their training site that is used for emergency training such as police squads and fire department training. They train how to drive these vehicles and operate the trucks under different situations here at this site. The track is also used to train people to drive tractor/ trailers. Here they are taught how to drive the semi's, back up, shift, stop, and all the things to keep the equipment and driver safe. It is also the location where about 400 people take motorcycle rider education courses a year, that's where he got a notice that classes were getting canceled. They also teach the BRC and BRC2 course along with the Ultimate Bike Bonding Course here.

Last year this is where I took the UBBC and had a blast doing it. On the second night I was there we were doing laps around the course on our bikes. The coach said we could go as fast as we wanted, "just don't crash" and practice shifting our weight to make the corners. Ok you have 8 bikes doing laps, it is about 7:30 at night and we are all running aftermarket exhaust. All of a sudden, a car pulls onto the track to talk to the instructor about the noise. After some discussion, the person left and we continued with our training finishing that evening. At the end, we discussed the training and the discussion turned to the guy. Apparently, they have been having issues with noise complaints. Many of the complaints came because the semi training continued late on a few nights so the neighbors were hearing all the trucks running until 11-11:30 at night.

Well, increase demands for use of the training site made it necessary to remodel the area and with that upgrade they needed to get a new conditional use permit. I am sure many of you are seeing where this is going ... well the sound issue came up with restrictions being issued on time of use, no bikes larger than 150cc on Sunday mornings along with other restrictions on the other vehicles being used there such as no sirens etc. Yes, it is a combined noise type complaint with neighbors worried about how their residence and home life is being impacted. Like many arguments, from the guy that builds next to a farm and complains about the smell, or moving next to an airport and not liking the noise from planes, I find these stupid fights. Although the track has been there for about 30 years, and it was the middle of nowhere then, the "new" neighbors started to flex their political capital and got it a little quieter. Solutions to a problem like this are hard to find, you just don't find a piece of land put a track on it along with buildings lights and all that. After some discussion, the Dean of the school and the council were able to make changes to their training schedules to continue training soon to be riders along with experienced riders. But it is cramping the number of students that can be trained to about 250 people. The school needs to increase the track time by 4 more hours on Sunday evening for the BRC class.

As it moves forward there have been discussions going on internally at the campus, lawyers working collecting fees, trying to get the use permit changed to allow street legal training bikes to operate on the track.

It seems you never know where the next issue is going to come up when it comes to sound. I urge everyone to use throttle management. Yes, I like to hear the rumble of a motorcycle as much as the next person. I look forward to see who is coming down the street when out in the yard hearing a bike rolling closer. But one person's music is another person's aggravation and that turns into a fight that no one enjoys. We need to be vigilant to remind riders of throttle management and to remind the riders that they may get a ticket to pay, be we also need to watch when street legal bikes are getting punished because of a group enforcement of noise.

Reblin, John. "Deputy Director's Report." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter Jun. 2017.

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