Edmonton police measure motorcycle noise ahead of summer

In an effort to reduce summer street noise, police invited motorcyclists to drive to NAIT Souch Campus to measure the sound emitted by their bikes.

If a bike is too loud, the rider risks getting a ticket

Edmonton police helped motorcyclists prepare for summer Saturday by measuring the loudness of their bikes. If it's too loud, riders risk getting a ticket. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Ready, set, rev.

That's what the Edmonton Police Service asked motorcyclists to do on Saturday.

Traffic officers said they expect a surge in motorbikes on city streets in the summer — and more bikes means more noise.

In an effort to prevent noise, police invited motorcyclists to NAIT Souch Campus on Gateway Boulevard to measure the loudness emitted by their bikes.

According to a 2010 municipal noise bylaw, most motorcycles on the road can't exceed 96 decibels, which is comparable to the volume of a Boeing 737 jet right before it lands.

Officers placed a sound-level meter at a 45-degree angle from motorbike exhaust pipes, then revved the engines, to see if the bikes met bylaw requirements. Motorcyclists whose bikes exceeded the 96-decibel limit were offered amnesty from receiving a ticket during the event.

"It's a benefit for the community that [motorcyclists] are getting their noise tested, because I would hate to give someone a ticket if I didn't have to," Sgt. Rohitas Chandra said.

Officers place a sound level metre near a motorcycle's exhaust pipe to measure volume. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

He urged bikers to familiarize themselves with the rules.

"We get a lot of complaints and stuff over the summer," Chandra said. "The bylaw is here to stay. It has been here for the last nine years and it's not going to change."

Corrie McCaig was one of a handful of motorcyclists who rolled into the event.

The 33-year-old started riding four years ago because she wanted to spend more time with her motorcycle-loving fiancé. Now, she's a veteran; McCaig even had to show a few police officers how to start her white and red Triumph Street Triple. 

"Do you boys need a hand?" McCaig said before starting her bike.

According to the sound-level meter, McCaig passed the test. She said she believes bylaws, like the one in question, serve an important purpose.

"As long as [the bylaw] goes towards other things, not just motorcycles, but loud cars, loud exhausts, loud bass. I mean, all those things that are obnoxiously loud," McCaig said." People like to have fun during the day, but I, for one, when I'm trying to sleep, don't want to be woken up."

Corrie McCaig's bike passed the sound test — it meets municipal bylaw standards. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Some riders worry about the bylaw.

    Jason McCann has been riding motorcycles for more than a decade. He said the sound emanating from his bike's exhaust has saved his life more than once.

    On Gateway Boulevard, McCann once found himself merging into the middle lane at the same time as a vehicle that was two lanes away. When the car's driver heard McCann's motorcycle, he slowed down and let McCann switch lanes first.

    "That happens quite often, to be honest," he said. "[Motorcyclists] are hard enough to see on the road as it is."

    "If you quiet them down on the road so there's no sound at all, people in vehicles won't know [bikers] are there," he added.

      Like McCaig, McCann doesn't want motorcycles to be singled out.

      "We get a bad rap. A lot of guys like to rev-bomb [motorcycles] and make a lot of noise, and that's where this comes from," McCann said. "But that goes for the same with cars, trucks ... This isn't just a motorcycle issue."

        McCann said he thinks bikers who intentionally create noise deserve tickets.

        "If you're sitting in traffic or in a residential area and you're just screaming around, that's different," McCann said.

        Motorcyclists who make too much noise risk receiving a $250 fine.