The Current Situation on Motorcycle Noise
Origins of the Anti-motorcycle noise issue.
It has been just over two years since town or city governments in Canada began to institute by-laws to regulate motorcycle exhaust noise by means of electronic sound test meters and using a method and numerical criteria developed in 2009 by the Society of Automotive Engineers for the Motorcycle Industry Association (MIA) in the USA and the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council (MMIC) in Canada.
The MMIC began its promotion of this testing methodology and proposed allowable noise levels, called the “SAE J2825 recommended practice” by promoting it to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), a non-governmental co-ordination organization whose full members are representatives of the various provincial government transportation departments and the federal government transportation department. Associate members, of which the MMIC is one, are also part of the organization. In 2010, a committee of the CCMTA reported favourably on the idle portion test of J2825 but had some reservations on the noise testing at 2000 and 5000 engine rpm, due to the inherent problems of motorcycle tachometer accuracy and the failure of the SAE J2825 test document to specify and recommend specific rpm test instrumentation.
The J2825 “recommended practice” methodology proposed a maximum sound level of 92 dBA at the motorcycle’s engine idling speed with the sound meter on slow response setting and placed at 50 cm from the exhaust silencer outlet tip and at a 45 degree angle to the line of the motorcycle silencer. Measured at the same position, motorcycles with the engine speed at 2000 rpm (for motorcycles with 1,2 or more than 4 engine cylinders) were to be allowed a maximum sound pressure level of 96 dBA. For 3 and 4 cylinder motorcycles the engine speed was 5000 rpm and the permitted sound pressure level was 100 dBA.
Through 2010, 2011 and up to the current time, MMIC officials, such as Luc Fournier, Director of Policy and Government Relations, and the President of the MMIC, Robert Ramsay have actively promoted the use of the J2825 test method and allowed levels to a substantial number of Canadian municipalities and provincial governments.
Current status of Canadian motorcycle noise by-laws
The J2825 test methodology in whole or in part, and some or all of the three proposed test levels proposed in the J2825 document have been adopted by some Canadian municipalities. Others have decided on different approaches.
AlbertaCalgary, City Council decided in May, 2011 to set an allowable level of vehicle noise at 96 dBA and to investigate the measurement and recording of the noise level and picture of the license plate of the vehicle with a proprietary device called “The Noise Snare” produced by an Edmonton, Alberta firm called Street Noise Reduction Systems Ltd. In December, 2011 Calgary City council directed the city administration to proceed with the utilization of this technology to address excessive vehicle noise. In May, 2012 initial “free testing” was done prior to June 1 when the by-law and 96 dBA level come into force as does the penalty of $200. However warnings only will be given in the month of June. Currently, (as of June 7th) the “Noise Snare” “needs to be calibrated before deployment on city streets” and will re-appear in Calgary in mid-June. There does not appear to be any proven relationship to the J 2825 stationary test methodology since the “Noise Snare” is a drive-by type of test.
The City of Edmonton, adopted a by-law allowing 92 dBA at idle and no higher level than 96 dBA at any higher-than-idle rpm. The Edmonton police are understood to use the J2825 test methodology and the 92,96 and 100 dBA criteria. After several “free test” sessions in June, 2010 the by-law came into force on July 1, 2010. In the period of the by-law enforcement from July 1 to October 31, 2010, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) laid 115 noise bylaw infraction charges. The EPS, according to their own January 2011 report, carried out 16 shifts dedicated to noise enforcement during that period and these shifts produced 69 of the 115 bylaw charges as well as 1,333 TSA charges including speeding, equipment, documentation and other infractions. (ref1.doc) In early 2011, the city of Edmonton had several noise by-law prosecutions dismissed and while indicating that they would appeal the decisions eventually withdrew the appeals. According to an April, 2012 Edmonton news source, the EPS issued 79 motorcycle noise by-law tickets in 2011 of which 14 were paid, 10 settled in favour of the defendant, while 55 were still outstanding.
Grand Prairie, council has decided to wait for action by the province of Alberta.
Current status of Canadian motorcycle noise by-laws
Kelowna, passed a by-law in mid-2011 which would permit up to 96 dBA as measured by the J2825 test methodology. A press report in the Kelowna Daily Courier of June 1, 2012 indicates that the city Council may soon rescind the by-law as it expects the province of BC to enact province-wide legislation on motorcycle noise.
Bathurst, passed an anti-motorcycle noise by-law in the summer of 2011 and press reports indicate that it is in operation with a 92 dBA limit and using the J2825 test methodology.
Saskatoon, city council decided in 2010 not to pursue adoption of a J2825-based noise test.
Current status of Canadian motorcycle noise by-laws
The Town of Caledon, due to complaints of a noisy 2010 “Ride for Dad” which passed through the village of Belfountain in the hilly “Forks of the Credit” area, passed a by-law based on the J2825 testing methodology and, after revisions, using the three J 2825 test levels. The by-law passed in October, 2010 did not come into force until October 1, 2011. Several “free test” sessions were held in the summer of 2011. A total of 71 “free tests” performed before October 1st resulted in 52 passes. Only 5 tests were conducted after the by-law came into force, all were passes. Caledon, in February, 2012 has proposed modification to their by-law to use the SAE recommended slow response meter setting. It is further understood that Caledon testing is to be for idle speed dBA only, due to concerns about accurately measuring engine rpm on a motorcycle being tested.
The Township of Georgian Bluffs, has put up signs on roads in particular problem areas.
Guelph, city council has indicated to their administration that it should move towards a motorcycle noise by-law in 2012 by holding voluntary “clinics” where motorcyclists could have their motorcycles tested by an unspecified version of the J2825 procedure.
London, city council has been advised by its administrative officials and police department that the current Ontario Highway Traffic Act legislation should be utilized.
Oakville, passed an anti-motorcycle noise by-law in December, 2011 (which comes into force on July 1, 2012) which uses the J2825 test procedure and three criteria of 92 dBA, 96 dBA and 100 dBA with testing to be done by Oakville by-law officers and Halton Regional Police. “Free testing” has been done once in May, 2012 and a further session is planned for late June. The idle test is used as a “screening” test. A minimum fine of $400 is part of the by-law.
Windsor, is apparently using the current Ontario Highway Traffic Act provisions.
Other pertinent items related to the motorcycle noise issue.
The province of Ontario is on record in a letter to the Town of Oakville that it considers the present legislation concerning motor vehicle noise to be adequate and is therefore not in favour of legislation using a numerical standard and a testing method such as J2825.
The SAE in November, 2011 began a review of the J2825 “recommended practice” document first issued in May, 2009. The review has not been completed as of June, 2012.
In 2010, the CVMG conducted tests based on the J2825 methodology and criteria on 52 Classic, Vintage and Antique motorcycles owned by CVMG members. In general, the motorcycles registered less than 92 dBA at idle and all motorcycles with standard, stock type silencers passed the higher rpm tests at 96 dBA or 100 dBA depending on their engine configuration. It concluded that antique, vintage and classic motorcycles in standard original or restored to original condition are not likely to exceed the criteria propose by the SAE in the 2009 J2825 “recommended practice” document.(ref9.doc)
No general acceptance of the J2825 standards.
It would appear that, in spite of heavy promotion by the MMIC in the past two years, that there has been no acceptance of the J2825 “recommended practice” motorcycle noise testing methodology by Provincial or Federal governments as a basis for revised motor vehicle noise regulation.
Acceptance of the J2825 “recommended practice” motorcycle noise testing methodology and proposed criteria by municipal governments in Canada has been slow and limited. Currently, four municipalities have passed and brought into operation (or will shortly) a motorcycle-only noise by-law which uses some version of the SAE J2825 “recommended practice” methodology and proposed sound level criteria. These are Edmonton, AB, Caledon, ON, Bathurst, NB and Oakville, ON. In all four cases, it would appear that some local, and often localized, motorcycle noise problem has resulted in a small citizen’s group, troubled by late night motorcycle noise at a local “biker hangout” coffee shop or concentrated noise from a large motorcycle charity event parade, complaining to such an extent that it has led local politicians to the promotion and passing of an “anti-motorcycle noise” by-law.
London, ON, Windsor, ON, Saskatoon, SK and Grand Prairie, AB have reviewed the SAE J2825 but have decided against adoption. Guelph, ON has not made any official decision.
The city of Calgary has pursued a noise level testing/photo recording system known as “Noise Snare” to test all motor vehicles. It presumably will begin operation in July, 2012.
Members vehicles in unmodified condition likely to be ok
From the 2010 CVMG Antique, Vintage and Classic motorcycle sound test results, CVMG members with treasured motorcycles which have stock, or original pattern silencers and which are operated with due consideration for local neighbours and awareness of local conditions such as time of day/night, streetscapes that increase reflectivity of sound, and so on, will not be affected by the current situation of motorcycle noise testing in this country.
Monitoring of this situation is continuing and any news items or government reports which CVMG members become aware of can be Emailed to A. Johnson
Detailed reference material is available for those whom are interested.