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Published on 4/2/2013
02 April 2013

The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) announced to its members today that the ill-advised Anti-Motorcycle Sound Warrant in the Town of Yarmouth was defeated last night at the Yarmouth Town Meeting.  With strong representation from the MMA and area Motorcyclists, the town voted overwhelmingly with the Town Selectmen, Police Chief and Deputy Chief against the ill-advised warrant which would have seen heavy fines for motorcyclists who don't have OEM exhaust on their bikes, even if parked.

Although April Fools' Day is celebrated in many countries with people playing hoaxes on each other, the Warrant being heard in Yarmouth was no joke.  It seems that every spring brings out the anti-motorcycle crowd in advance of the riding season.  While normally hailed by local merchants, Motorcyclists are held in disdain by a vocal few because of the irresponsible actions of an even smaller minority.  In winter, most people have their heavily insulated walls and windows blocking the sound from outside.  In spring, those windows open to let in the fresh air and sounds of birds singing.  Those same open windows bring the sounds of lawn equipment and vehicles interrupting the reserve of the winter's prison.  As the weather warms, more vehicles, including Motorcycles, find the peace of coastal communities a haven.  Motorcyclists, especially ride in groups to enjoy the weather and patronize the local shops who welcome them with open arms.

In Yarmouth, there's little exception to the welcoming atmosphere, but as in some other coastal towns, there are a select few who cringe at the thoughts of Motorcycles invading their personal solitude.  As in some other towns in prior years, Yarmouth became the latest test case for the anti-Motorcycle crowd who, buoyed by the organized "noise" around the country by anti-motorcycle organizations attempted to portray the EPA Stamp as a panacea for their ill-aimed venom.  In this case, Town Warrant Article #36 would have imposed a $300 fine on a Motorcycle if an EPA stamp was not clearly visible, even if parked.

Last Month the MMA consulted with the Yarmouth Chief of Police and Deputy Chief prior to the Selectmen's meeting.  At that meeting, the Chief discussed the existing Massachusetts State Law and the realities of the EPA stamp.

The MMA is strongly opposed to the use of the OEM EPA Stamp as an enforcement tool simply because it is a consumer protection mechanism, not meant to be used against the consumer.  It is also hard to locate on many models  of motorcycle, hidden under seats on sport bikes, under saddle bags of cruisers, or simply facing the wrong way for aesthetic reasons.  Most critically, per the very regulation that entitles it, it expires in one year or 3,729 miles, whichever comes first!! 

Instead, the MMA continues to hold a firm belief that the existing laws on the books are sufficient if properly implemented and enforced, specifically that simple test procedures do exist for muffled exhaust, whether replaced with after-market or not, with a reasonable sound level.  Given that very few complaints have been lodged with the Police Department, one questions whether there is a real problem or not in Yarmouth.  Further, that Education, not Legislation, is key to changing the behavior of a select few who either remove their mufflers or rev throttles simply to "sound cool"… 

The MMA's "When in Town, Throttle Down©" (click on the banner on the MMA Website: details the realities of the current law, the "EPA Stamp" and programs that are designed to work with local riders and/or Law Enforcement to create awareness of the issue and actual sound levels. 

Armed with the facts, the Yarmouth Selectmen voted unanimously against the warrant article which was then heard last night.  Many motorcyclists from Yarmouth and border towns waited four and a half hours at the Town Meeting for Article 36, which was the last to be called.   After hearing from two residents supporting the proposed bylaw and three against, a Town Meeting Member enacted a procedural motion to suspend additional testimony and “Move the Article” directly to a vote.   The motion carried, the vote was taken, and the proposal was soundly defeated with an almost unanimous vote.   It was clear to the committee that Yarmouth residents did not support the increased burden to motorcycle riders and the Yarmouth Police Department and that this issue was not worth the expenditure of additional resources.

The MMA thanks the many riders who attended last night's Yarmouth Town Meeting, the Selectmen, Chief, and Deputy Chief for their diligence and support.

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