Feb 21, 2008
A reader in Albuquerque commented on a motorcycle noise article I'd written a few years back. At one time, Albuquerque had enough of motorcycle noise and stuck gangs of motorcyclists into the same barrell as gangs of truckers, cagers, and other noise makers. Apparently, the AMA took offense and plied some political muscle to Albuquerque's weak city government and "turned the law around." Here's a little of the discussion I had with the reader:
In an old (2006) article, you mentioned a noise ordinance in Albuquerque that may have been effective in curbing motorcycle noise. In 2002, the situation reversed itself, in response to pressure from the AMA. The allowed noise level for motorcycles in Albuquerque is an earsplitting 99 dB, 19 dB above the level for other light vehicles. It is incredible to me that the City Government would do this to the residents here. The motor vehicle portion of the city noise ordinance is attached as a pdf file.
So much for Albuquerque as an environmentally friendly place in which to locate a clean business or even in which to spend a restful night in a hotel!
I'd heard that Albuquerque had caved to pressure/money/whatever, but this is an interesting development. The noise spec they are using, SAE stationary test method J1287, requires the test measurement to be made at 20" from the exhaust outlet. With the same standard test, the city is allowing 95 dB for vehicles under 6,000 lbs (not including motorcycles). The 99dBspl standard is 1dB louder than the AMA allows for race bikes in sanctioned events and 3dB louder than their recommendation for "General Off-Highway Use." However, it is an easier to test (assuming semi-competent cops) standard than the old rule and could be easily modified for quieter standards if the city proves they employ semi-intelligent., marginally technical cops who can enforce the new rule.
Outdoors, sound pressure degrades approximately 3-4dB every doubling of distance. So, at 25' the new rule is asking for a noise output of roughly 83-85dBAspl. In the detailed noise rule description, they also state "The requirements in §9-9-9(A) apply to the total sound from a vehicle or combination of vehicles and shall not be construed as limiting or precluding the enforcement of any other provisions of this article relating to motor vehicle mufflers for noise control." Then they follow that with this piece of smoke and mirrors, "Any motor vehicle with a GVW rating under 10,000 lbs. or more except motorcycles" at "all times" "will be limited to 80dBA" "The requirements [above] apply to the total sound from a vehicle or combination of vehicles and shall not be construed as limiting or precluding the enforcement of any other provisions of this article relating to motor vehicle mufflers for noise control." With the sneaky insertion of the "except motorcycles" in the above description, they are allowing groups of motorcycles to make unlimited noise, while restricting all other groups of under 6,000 lb. vehicles to a max noise level of 80dBA.
With all the whining from motorcyclists about being discriminated against seems to disappear when the discrimination is in their favor. I wonder where the political clout to do this comes from?