German motorcyclists protest against noise reduction of their bikes
In German cities, at least 19 000 motorcyclists protested on Saturday against an initiative by the Länder to reduce noise from motorcycles.
The motorcyclists are angry about an initiative of the Bundesrat, the parliamentary chamber in which the sixteen federal states are represented, to limit the maximum noise level of motorcycles to that of a truck or lawnmower. On the table is also a ban on motorcycling on Sundays and public holidays.
Bikers for Freedom
In Stuttgart, 8 000 motorcyclists drove through the city, which, according to the police, led to severe traffic nuisance. In Munich, where no permission had been given for the demonstration, and where there still is a ban on large gatherings, more than 6 000 bikers turned up.
In Friedrichshafen, 5 000 people took part. There were also smaller protests in cities like Wiesbaden, Schwerin, and Dresden. The group ‘Bikers for Freedom’ organized the nationwide protests.
Minister against the plan
“Most of them drive as they should, but quite a few motorcyclists use the road to race up and down,” explains Mayor Matthias Weckback of Bodman-Ludwigshafen. “The noise of motorcyclists and highly motorized vehicles is heard all over the city. The inhabitants can no longer find peace and quiet.”
Many German towns, villages, and municipalities support the proposal to reduce noise pollution. Federal officials will consider the proposals in the coming weeks, but federal Transport Minister, Andreas Scheuer (Christian Social Union), has already voiced his opposition to the plan.
In 2019, up to 194 002 motorcycles were sold in Germany, ranking it in 25th place in the World, and fourth in Europe, after France, Italy, Spain, and ahead of Turkey.
The increase in regulations regarding the sound level of gas-powered motorcycles highlights an obvious advantage of electric motorcycles that make a less explosive noise.
A significant source of noise
Too loud motorcycles used to be socially accepted; now it’s more and more sensitive all over Europe. In the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany, more and more tourist routes are, for example, closed during the weekends for motorcycles.
In 2018, the European Commission published several papers, in which the problem of noise was addressed, and motorcycles were mentioned as an important source of it.
In the present Euro 4 and the coming Euro 5 standards, the limits of decibels (dB) for motorcycles have changed and might even be lowered further. The old limit of 80 dB for motorcycles has disappeared and is replaced by the standard 77 dB. An original exhaust will not cause any problems but some owners replace or modify their exhaust systems.
According to car section federation Febiac, the popular saying under motorcyclists “Loud pipes save lives” is a myth. It is a fact that in half of all motorcycle accidents, the cause of an accident lies with another road user who did not notice the motorcyclist or noticed him too late. But excessive engine noise is not going to solve this.
The noise comes from the exhaust and can, therefore, be heard behind the motorcycle. But most accidents occur at side streets and junctions where the motorcycle can’t be heard anyway.