To the Honorable Board of Selectmen, Town of Hingham, MA:
John A. Riley, email@example.com
Laura M. Burns, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Rabuffo, email@example.com
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) is a not-for-profit organization of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts, dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of motorcyclists' rights through appropriate, non-discriminatory legislation and regulation at all levels of government, and through the implementation of safety, insurance, education and public awareness policy and programs for the betterment of all motorcycling within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It’s with some dismay that we read the news article regarding a citizen of the town of Hingham and his individual challenge of Motorcycles in your town entitled, “Motorcycle noise irks Hingham resident” (http://www.wickedlocal.com/hingham/news/x1683629411/Motorcycle-noise-irks-Hingham-resident).
Contrary to the article’s intimation, Attorney Thomas Sobran has raised issue with Motorcycles before and members of the MMA Board of Directors have personally reached out to him in the past. Attorney Sobran has apparently decided not to work with the MMA or the motorcyclists, but instead attempt to regulate them out of existence. We would like to raise our own concerns with Attorney Sobran’s position.
With spring comes the beginning of seasonal traffic to Massachusetts. Traffic in and around some of the state’s coastal communities is not something to be envied, but the scenery and hospitality are why people visit. And, as with any large group, there are those who act without concern to the enjoyment of others.
With spring also come Motorcycles. Many motorcyclists have been waiting all winter to enjoy the freedom of the open road, and we are also not immune to the allures of scenery and hospitality. Motorcycles account for large percentages of Massachusetts Residents, in fact over 180,000 were registered in Massachusetts last year alone. Motorcyclists also contribute heavily to the state’s recreation economy as well as riding almost every weekend in support of some charitable organization or another. While doing so, we contribute less to road congestion and air pollution.
Unfortunately, we motorcyclists, who contribute so much to our communities and the economy are also often target to those who don’t appreciate the allure of our sport; in this case through the argument of noise.
Barring contribution to the town’s economy, remain the questions of sound enforcement, which we believe to be a State mandate vs. the town, and whether or not there are ways to test it.
Certainly, the proposal to mandate OEM exhaust is unreasonable in its own right. The article cites 1982 or later as requiring OEM-stamped exhaust, yet the longevity of an exhaust system is not a factor of only age; it’s also use and environment. In many cases, motorcycles far younger than 1982 of many different brands no longer have the luxury of OEM exhaust, which would require after-market purchase, and would therefore not carry the OEM “stamp” which is regulated only for Motorcycle Manufacturers by the EPA.
In many other cases, the decision to acquire an after-market exhaust is an aesthetic choice. The state does not restrict aesthetic choices from any type of motor vehicle providing that the vehicle complies with Massachusetts General Law (MGL, specifically Chapter 90, Sections 7S, T, & U for Motorcycles). In the vast majority of cases, after-market Motorcycle Exhaust does comply, yet carries no OEM stamp as noted above.
Further, the economic impact of such a decision would put many suppliers and service dealers out of business. People whose livelihood depends on the sale of after-market accessories for vehicles.
Sound is, however, a concern not restricted to a single motorcycle, as in fact many motorcycles ride in large groups. Yet ironically, the sound emitted from a diesel truck exceeds that of a motorcycle, especially during braking!
The MMA has worked specifically with the State for many years now with the focus on improving education around safety and other issues including noise. We often run “sound checks” for Motorcycle Groups around Massachusetts during our events to improve the awareness of Motorcyclists to the amount of noise they are capable of generating. If a not-for-profit organization can run these checks, we’d imagine the town of Hingham could if they so wanted to, within the guidelines for motorcycle noise sanctioned by the MGL. Indeed, if the Town of Hingham and its Police Department would entertain the proposal, the MMA would be very pleased to co-host a “Sound Clinic” in the town over the summer.
As representatives of Motorcyclists across the state, we ask that the Town of Hingham not consider overriding Massachusetts General Law, but instead work with the MMA on increasing the awareness of the concern in order to create a safe and enjoyable environment for all concerned.
Chairman, Massachusetts Motorcycle Association