Charles Umbenhauer

"It was never about the helmet, it was about choice."
—Charles Umbenhauer

Charles Umbenhauer

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politics—BIKER STYLE
Between the Lines June 2017 issue

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Loud Pipes Save Lives?

It has been a debate for decades.  Loud pipes saves lives or loud pipes risk rights?  Many of you might remember that not long after we modified our helmet law I said that the most asked question of me at the capitol was OK, now when are you going to quiet down the motorcycles? 

We do have a position on noise management which appears in the ABATE of PA Issues and Positions booklet and also you can find it on the ABATE website at  Click on Legislation and then look at Positions.  There it is. 

But, in the meantime, House Bill 1299 has been introduced into the 2017 session.  Here is what this bill is all about in a nutshell.  Prohibition of straight pipe exhaust systems on motorcycles.  No person may operate a motorcycle with a straight pipe exhaust system.  A person who violates this subsection shall be fined as follows:  not less than $250 for a first offense, not less than $500 for a second or subsequent offense. 

This bill was introduced by Representative Donna Bullock (D-195 Philadelphia), Representative William Keller, Transportation Minority Chair (D-184 Philadelphia), Representative Jared Solomon (D-202 Philadelphia) and Representative Maria Donatucci (D-185- Philadelphia).  The bill was referred to Committee on Transportation on April 28, 2017. 

Normally I would not be too concerned about this bill since it deals with an issue that does come up from time to time but never seems to get any traction in the legislature.  However, this time I am a little concerned that the Minority Chair of the Transportation Committee, William Keller is one of the four sponsors of the bill.  The fact that all four of them are from the Philadelphia area tells me that this is a bigger problem there than it is in other places around the state. 

Once upon a time I was having breakfast with several Senators who all represented different parts of the state, and the subject of loud motorcycles came up.  The first Senator from a very rural area stated, “I don’t know what the big deal is about loud motorcycles?  I can sit on my porch and hear them out on Route 6 and it has a unique rumble that doesn’t seem to upset anyone in my neighborhood.”  Then a Senator from Philadelphia said, “If you lived in my area, and on Monday morning get a dozen calls about loud bikes going down South Street on a Sunday evening and setting off a dozen car alarms as they pass by, you would change your mind about loud pipes.” 

Well a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that conversation but once again the issue is probably going to be debated at the capitol. 

For those of you who are wondering what ABATE’s position will be I can tell you now that we are “opposed”.  We base that on our Position Paper on Sound “Noise Management.”   Our position states, ABATE of PA does not oppose uniform statewide vehicle noise statutes that would apply equally to all vehicles.  We believe that our members and the motorcycling community at large would “do their part” to reduce vehicle noise if all sources of excessive vehicular noise were subject to the same standards and level of enforcement. 

We do vigorously attack any attempt to “single us out” in terms of enforcement or penalties because such proposals treat us differently than all other users of the road. “ 

I will continue to monitor this bill and will keep you updated on any movement or action required on your part.