Living in a beautiful beach town like Santa Monica has many advantages: abundant sunshine, miles of beautiful beaches, and a progressive city government. But being an attractive city to visit means there are disadvantages that we are made to endure. One of these is the roar of loud motorcycles. From my home in the Ocean Park neighborhood, I’ve heard two of them over three blocks away in the time it took to write the first sentences of this essay. Both Harleys and sports bikes are guilty. Motorcycle riders break federal, state and local laws when they remove the legal exhaust systems and replace them with straight pipes or other illegally loud exhaust systems.

According to the riders I’ve spoken to, their reason for changing the exhaust falls into three categories.

Power. In some cases, exchanging the exhaust system can result in a small increase in the power of a motorcycle. However, most motorcycles today have plenty of power as stock machines, and the only people who really need the incremental increase are those who race on legally sanctioned tracks.

“Loud Pipes Save Lives”. This is a meme you hear all the time from motorcycle riders who have loud pipes. On the surface, it sounds plausible that the louder the motorcycle, the more people will be aware of it and take measures not to hit it. However, there are exactly zero studies that support this. The truth is, visibility is what saves lives, not noise.

Showing off. This is the real reason most motorcycle riders who switch to loud pipes do so. They love to rattle windows and make as much noise as possible so people will look at them and their awesome machines.

These scofflaws are breaking federal EPA statutes governing exhaust systems that prevent pollution, and they break state and local laws governing how much noise can be produced when they switch out their legal mufflers for after-market pipes. They end up producing more pollution, quite a bit more than a full sized car. They also produce noise that disturbs thousands of people who happen to work or live anywhere within several blocks of their route. And they do all of this with virtually no recourse from the police.

I’ve spent the past several months trying to convince the Santa Monica Police Department to enforce the local and state laws by ticketing these bikers. I was met with considerable resistance from the police department initially, but recently, the new City Manager, Rick Cole, was informed of the situation and he promises me he will look into it.

We deserve the quiet enjoyment of our property and these miscreants are taking that away from us. It is up to our police department to protect us from these law breakers. I hope that Rick Cole will see to it that this issue gets the attention it deserves. In the meantime, when you hear one of these bikes, it is your right to complain to the appropriate parties to let them know you want action taken to remedy the problem.

Paul Scott
Santa Monica

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