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Bike noise: A law that doesn’t matter?


New Hampshire’s legal limit for motorcycle noise is 14 decibles lower this year than last year. Laconia’s Motorcycle Week begins on Saturday. Asked last week about the change, Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said, “They lowered the decibel level?”
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Chief Adams was not alone in his confusion. Numerous law enforcement officers contacted by the New Hampshire Sunday News last week were unaware of the change. Bike Week is a great New Hampshire tradition. It would be even greater for many residents of Laconia — and the towns through which Bike Week participants transit to and from Weirs Beach — if the lower decibel level were enforced. It is hard to enforce a law you don’t know exists.
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The new decibel level, on the books since Jan. 1, is unlikely to do much good this year, which is a shame because loud bikes turn many Granite Staters against Bike Week in particular and motorcyclists in general. Bike Week presents both state and local police an opportunity to educate bikers about the lower level so the summer can be more enjoyable for everyone. Or it would have if law enforcement knew about the change.
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“We’ve had several discussions as a department getting ready for Bike Week — we really start getting ready a year in advance — and that hasn’t been part of the plans,” Laconia Chief Adams said of regulating motorcycle noise under the new law. Other police officers said they don’t even have decibel meters, so they cannot check the levels. What a missed opportunity. We should not have to wait a year to have this law enforced.
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