SALISBURY - With summer in full gear, the number of motorcycles rumbling through Salisbury Square, the beach area, and other areas of town is probably at its apex.
But while the vast majority of motorcycle riders pass through as quietly as possible, there are a few who unnecessarily crank their throttles and create a thunderous booming cacophony that rattles through open windows frustrating residents and business owners alike.
In an attempt to curtail noise pollution and enforce excessive noise laws on the books, the Salisbury Police Department has teamed up with the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association in its “Throttle Down While in Town” campaign. Evidence of the campaign can be found on two electronic message board signs strategically placed in Salisbury Square and Bridge Road asking motorcyclists to refrain from excessive noise.
“I’m hoping they’ll be there for a few days,” Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said earlier this week.
Fowler said over the last few months, his department has fielded many complaints from civic groups and residents regarding motorcycle noise pollution. That prompted a meeting with MMA officials last month who helped local law enforcement come up with a campaign that was accessible and easy to promote.
MMA vice president Doc D’Errico said for the most part motorcycle riders are courteous and respectful while riding through communities. But it’s the occasional rider, typically a younger person, who spoils it for others by drawing the ire of residents who in turn complain to police.
“You get one or two bad eggs out there who need to put on a show,” D’Errico said.
Historically, revving the clutch was necessary to keep older motorcycles running. But with new technology, the need for such attention became unnecessary. While veteran motorcycle riders may rev their clutches out of habit, younger riders mainly do it for show, D’Errico said.
“It creates frustration and friction,” D”Errico said.
MMA recommends riders keep their engines below 2500 RPM’s to reduce noise as they drive through communities. Riding with respect is infectious as is riding without thought to others. The MMA warns that if motorcyclists don’t ride with respect, riders as a whole will find itself with bigger hurdles to overcome.
D’Errico said communities across the state are taking part in the program, including Boston, Yarmouth, North Reading and Taunton but added that Salisbury was taking it the farthest with the placement of message boards.
Excessive noise ordinances are part of Massachusetts General Law and can be enforced by police departments. But the problem, according to Fowler, is that it is very difficult to catch motorcycle riders in the act. Last month, the MMA and Salisbury police were preparing to set up a noise check point where the decibel levels of motorcycles would be recorded allowing police to stop riders who violate the state’s excessive noise law. Poor weather conditions prompted the cancellation of the sting operation.
About 12 years ago, Newburyport attempted to crack down on loud motorcycles by issuing multiple citations. It inflamed into a political tango between the police department, the city, the court and motorcyclists, and eventually the effort was abandoned.
In the future, Fowler said he hopes to conduct joint noise calming campaigns with Amesbury and Newburyport police departments saying both communities also has its share of complaints regarding motorcycle riders throttling their clutches while in town.