Edmonton vs. Loud Pipes, Round Five, about to debut?

Edmonton appears to once again be preparing to tackle the problem of noisy motorcycles within city limits, although its plans are unclear.

Over the past few years, Edmonton has been trying to come up with a solution for loud vehicles, with what appears to be little success. In 2013, the city announced a crackdown, but only issued 338 tickets under the noise bylaw, of which only 108 were paid, after riders and drivers decided to start fighting them in court. Motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles were both subject to the noise bylaw, with motorcyclists saying they were being unfairly targeted and the city responding by saying more cars than bikes were ticketed.

In 2014, the city talked about the possibility of even higher fines, but little action seemed to come of it. Another crackdown was announced in 2016, and then a “noise camera” pilot program (similar to a speed camera, but with a decibel  meter instead of a radar gun) was announced for 2018. The noise camera pilot project was a spectacular failure. The cameras were configured to only warn riders of their noise levels, not ticket them. Predictably, motorcyclists were simply riding up to the cameras to see how loud they could rev their motorcycles, with no fear of consequences.

Despite the setbacks, Edmonton city leaders seem intent to pursue this again, as the city police were out on the weekend, running a free noise check clinic. CBC reports riders could tootle down to the NAIT South Campus on Saturday and have officers check their exhaust output with a decibel meter.

How did they run the testing? According to the CBC, “Officers placed a sound level metre at a 45-degree angle from motorbike exhaust pipes, then revved the engines, to see if the bikes met bylaw requirements. Motorcyclists whose bikes exceeded the 96-decibel limit were offered amnesty from receiving a ticket during the event.”

However, this is pretty much all the information we have. As far as we know, the noise cameras aren’t coming back, so we’re probably looking at a return to the older method of having traffic cops utilizing decibel meters.

4 thoughts on “Edmonton vs. Loud Pipes, Round Five, about to debut?”

  1. Loud pipes don,t save lives. They just piss off the public,that then pressure legislators to enact laws for the rest of motorcyclists. As a former legislator I can tell u that it goes something like this. While we’re doing loud pipes we might as well do some other changes to the act while we’re at it. Reference the Doug Ford handlebars while doing HOV lanes. Loud yes, but not irritating .

  2. On-road (or roadside) noise testing is troublesome due to the lack of a controlled environment; it leads to the measurements being easily called into question. I think Caledon gave up on the higher-RPM part of the SAE J2825 test in their bylaw due to the inability to get an RPM measurement that is not open to question (the tachometer on your bike, if it has one, is not a certified instrument). The controlled-environment / qualified-operator situation could be addressed by making sound checks part of periodic vehicle inspections akin to the Drive Clean test … which the provincial government just cancelled. Yes, people could switch between a test-compliant set-up and an on-road set-up, but the inherent hassles and headaches and labour and cost of switching set-ups would deter lots of people from bothering. The other approach is California’s … mandatory EPA markings (N/A in Canada) i.e. mandatory stock exhausts. Owners of vintage vehicles (for which OEM parts are not available) would not like that. And I’m pretty sure anyone with a decent TIG welder could make a really noisy “muffler” out of the shell of a stock one complete with the compliance markings … and a few years of exposure to road salt and slush could do that on its own for free.

  3. What’s the point, without enforcement?

    I want noise laws passed with definite numerical standards, and then enforcement against all offenders, not just motorcycles.

    Cruisers (let’s face it, Harleys mostly) are major offenders, but there are plenty of others: semi tractors with straight pipes (ridiculous), muscle cars and pickups with Flowmasters and the like, diesel pickups with ridiculously large pipes (rolling coal idiots should be busted, too), ricers with fart cans, and of course, also sportbikes with loud exhausts.

    I have lived the last few years within earshot of an intersection on upper Centennial parkway in Hamilton. Some road noise is to be expected, of course. But I shouldn’t get drowned out while speaking, or have my TV totally overwhelmed (with windows closed!) by some idiot on an open-pipe cruiser or big diesel pickup.

    1. All I know is that excessive noise from vehicles adversely affects my quality of life and enjoyment of my property, completely unnecessarily. I don’t know, maybe some people don’t mind getting woken at 5 am, or having their napping baby woken, or having their TV drowned out (again, windows closed, even) by some twat on an open-piped Harley.

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