MILWAUKEE Cities from New York to Denver are giving motorcyclists the silent treatment.
And that worries riders rights groups, which fear that a wave of ordinances aimed at muffling Harley-Davidsons, hushing Hondas and stifling Suzukis will create a confusing patchwork of laws that motorcyclists won’t be able to navigate. The motorcycle industry is concerned it could turn these frustrated riders away.
“From our perspective, this creates enormous problems for us because people notice the one motorcycle that makes a lot of noise,” said Bill Wood, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association. “They don’t notice the 50 that pass that don’t. So there’s a perception that motorcycles are noisy.”
Ordinances come in many forms. Some are against certain types of products — like mufflers that would rattle the apples off trees — while others are aimed more at the intent of the driver, who may want to turn some heads or rile the neighbors on a Sunday afternoon.
As of July 1, riders in New York City are subject to a minimum $440 fine for having a muffler or exhaust system that can be heard within 200 feet.
In Lancaster, Pa., starting this month riders — and all motor vehicle drivers — could be ticketed for drawing attention to themselves, whether by creating too much noise by revving their engines or doing hard accelerations. Tickets start at $150.
As of July 1, motorcyclists in Denver could be ticketed $500 for putting mufflers on their bikes made by someone other than the original manufacturer, if the bike is 25 years old or less. These so-called after-market products can be louder than their manufacturer-made counterparts.
Denver’s plan is unique because it targets the after-market equipment. Wood said it limits riders’ freedom to choose what products to use. Many motorcyclists who need to replace parts use these products, rather than go to a dealer, which can be more expensive, Wood said.
Ordinances restricting motorcycle noise have been around for years. The American Motorcyclist Association does not track the numbers of such ordinances and often only hears about them just as they’re being passed, Wood said.
The association would rather see an ordinance that targets all vehicles or uses a decibel test to measure actual noise output.
The changes leave riders confused, said Pamela Amette, vice president of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the industry’s trade group. Enforcement can be subjective, too. The council is working with the American Society of Engineers to establish a sound test that would help equalize enforcement.
A similar test has been set for off-road bikes, and several states have adopted it, Amette said. The group hopes to have the test ready next year. The new tests could even heighten demand for quieter systems, she said, because riders will know what they need.
“Unless it’s very precise and adopted uniformly, then it’s just really not fair to the riders and to the industry,” Amette said.
The stakes for the industry are big. There were 1.1 million new motorcycles sold for $9.8 billion in 2005, the most recent year available, the council said. Parts, including those after-market mufflers, accessories and riding apparel, were an additional $2.8 billion.
“I think more and more people are putting pressure on communities,” said Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America, based in Madison, Wis. “That fact that Denver has done so is going to give a lot of encouragement to people who love peace and quiet.”
Harley-Davidson Inc., which tried in the 1990s to trademark its products’ distinctive rumble, is monitoring the growth of anti-noise ordinances that target motorcyclists, said Rebecca Bortner, a Harley spokeswoman.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker thinks the issue is less about the equipment and more about what riders do with it. The company asked its dealers a few years ago to stop carrying the loudest of after-market mufflers, straight unmuffled pipes, Bortner said.
All motorcycles sold for road use in the United States are subject to federal noise laws keeping them within a certain range of decibels, below 80 decibels from 50 feet away, said the industry council’s Amette. A good rule of thumb is that your average motorcycle — as approved by government standards — should hum like a sewing machine, she said.
But some bikes are louder. That happens when bikers buy after-market equipment, either for the sound or for more heightened performance.
CHILD experts and Melbourne teens say a proposed law banning underage body piercing without parent consent is too harsh.
Under the proposal, people under 18 would be banned from having any part of their body pierced without written parental consent.
The piercing industry has supported the proposal, saying it would stamp out shonky operators and protect children.
But experts say it would rob teens of their rights, and that 16 was a more realistic age of consent for piercings.
It comes as the State Government this week announced it will ban anyone under 16 from using solariums, after skin cancer patient Clare Oliver’s spoke out.
Nationals MP Damian Drum, who introduced the piercing Bill, said there was no law already governing the piercing industry.
“If a 10-year-old presents themselves at a salon, the salon decides if they do the piercing,” Mr Drum said.
“Parents are concerned that they are losing a grip on any of these decisions that determine their children’s health. “(Piercing) does create dangers of infection and dental damage.”
But Australian Childhood Foundation CEO Dr Joe Tucci said it would make more sense to ban those 16 and under from body piercings.
RMIT University professor of youth studies and sociology Judith Bessant said teens had the right to make judgments about their bodies.
“If they’ve got unprofessional practitioners, then they need to focus their attention on that. They should go for the practitioners, not the young people,” Prof Bessant said.
“I think we need to respect the rights of young people, and those rights include some degree of self-determination.”
Gladstone Park year 10 student Paul Serafin, 16, said piercing was a form of self-expression and the proposal was a threat to his rights.
“To take that away from us is extreme,” he said.
“I think it’s harsh because ear piercing is very standard, very common,” he said.
Broadmeadows student Bianca Baptista, 17, said she had the right to say what she could do to her own body.
Mentone teen Peter Alexander, who has stretched earlobes, said the law was too harsh.
East Burwood teen Sarina Taranto, who has 19 piercings, welcomed the proposal.
“I think it’s a good idea, because there are a lot of really bad places who take advantage of their position,” she said.
Peter Sheringham, who owns Prahran studio The Piercing Urge, said the proposed law was not about banning kids, but about involving parents.
“It’s about consent and informed consent,” he said.
“It’s all about looking after the kids.”
Mr Sheringham said he had seen children as young as 11 wanting “all kinds of piercings”, sometimes with their mothers in tow.
“That to me is wrong and scary,” he said.
Mr Sheringham said he did not pierce anyone under 18 without parental consent, and demands a parent be present when piercing under-16s.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the Government was aware of the Nationals’ proposal, but believed it had flaws “and we will work through those issues over the next few months”.
Whether it’s ears, lips, nostrils, eyebrows, belly buttons, tongues or even cheeks, you’ve probably seen piercings – maybe multiple piercings – on lots of people. But are they safe? And what should you know if you decide to get one?
A body piercing is exactly that – a piercing or puncture made in your body by a needle. After that, a piece of jewelry is inserted into the puncture. The most popular pierced body parts are the ears, nostrils and belly button.
If the person performing the piercing provides a safe, clean and professional environment, this is what you can expect from getting a body part pierced:
The area you’ve chosen to be pierced (except for the tongue) is cleaned with a germicidal soap.
Your skin is then punctured with a very sharp, clean needle.
The piece of jewelry, which has already been sterilized, is attached to the area.
The person performing the piercing disposes of the needle in a special container so that there is no risk of the needle or blood touching someone else.
The pierced area is cleaned.
The person performing the piercing checks and adjusts the jewelry.
The person performing the piercing gives you instructions on how to make sure your new piercing heals correctly and what to do if there is a problem.
If you’re thinking about getting pierced, do your research first. Find out what risks are involved and how best to protect yourself from infections and other complications.
Certain sites on the body can cause more problems than others – infection is a common complication of mouth and nose piercings because of the millions of bacteria that live in those areas. Tongue piercings can damage teeth over time. And tongue, cheek, and lip piercings can cause gum problems.
Studies have shown that people with certain types of heart disease might have a higher risk of developing a heart infection after body piercing. If you have a medical problem such as allergies, diabetes, skin disorders, a condition that affects your immune system or infections – or if you are pregnant – ask your doctor if there are any precautions you should take beforehand. Also, it’s not a good idea to get a body piercing if you’re prone to getting keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue).
If you decide to get a body piercing, make sure you’re up to date with your immunizations (especially hepatitis and tetanus).
Plan where you will get medical care if the piercing becomes infected (signs of infection include excessive redness/tenderness around the piercing site; prolonged bleeding; pus; or change in your skin color around the piercing area).
Also, if you plan to get a tongue or mouth piercing, make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.
Body piercing is regulated in some states but not others. Do a little investigative work about a shop’s procedures and find out whether it provides a clean and safe environment for its customers. Every shop should have an autoclave (a sterilizing machine) and should keep instruments in sealed packets.
Ask questions and make sure the shop is clean and the person doing the piercing washes his or her hands with a germicidal soap.
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