Councilors withdraw request for motorcycle noise signs

By Ben Holbrook | Jul 07, 2012

Belfast — City councilors withdrew their request to install signs asking motorcyclists to ride quietly within the city limits at its meeting Tuesday, July 3. Motorcycle enthusiasts attended the meeting and expressed frustration with being singled out as the sole cause of excessive vehicle noise.

During a previous City Council meeting, Councilor Roger Lee asked if it would be possible to ban motorcycles, but no further discussion about banning motorcycles was pursued. However, shortly after the meeting a boycott of Belfast businesses was proposed by motorcycle enthusiasts who felt they were being unfairly targeted by the City Council.

Brooks resident Dan Murphy opened discussion at the by expressing his displeasure with the proposed signs requesting motorcyclists to ride quietly. He acknowledged that some riders may install illegal exhaust systems on their bikes, but said that the majority of riders are not causing problems.

“The majority of bikers, when they see the signs, will avoid downtown Belfast,” Murphy told councilors. “I understand there is a state law regarding exhausts, so why not let the police do their job and do what they do. Ninety-nine percent of us are cognizant of the fact of noise.”

Murphy also singled out Lee and Councilor Mike Hurley for previous comments they made regarding the issue of excessive motorcycle noise. He asked Lee to apologize for his remark proposing a ban of motorcycles. Murphy then directed his attention to a comment Hurley made about how Murphy should be ashamed for organizing a boycott.

“Mr. Hurley, you suggested I should be ashamed of organizing a boycott. What do I have to be ashamed of? Sir, I hope you can see by attendance tonight that this isn’t just b.s., like you suggested. I ask the Council to reconsider posting signs. We want to put this issue to rest and come to mutual conclusion,” he said.

Lee responded by thanking Murphy for attending the meeting, but then pointed out the comment he made was just that – only a comment.

“I didn’t suggest it [banning bikes]. You said I suggested it. I said to the chief, ‘You know, I’m not saying I would be for it, but is it possible to ban bikes,’ and that was the end of it. It was hardly a suggestion,” Lee said.

Belmont resident Buzz Stultz said he has no intention of boycotting Belfast, but noted putting up signs may cause some riders to question whether they want to go into the city or not.

“Belfast is a beautiful, beautiful city and I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” Stultz said.

Several bikers specifically referenced the proposed signs the city councilors previously approved for purchase, citing the fact that the signs were only directed at motorcycles and made motorcyclists feel discriminated against. A suggestion was made to direct the "Please, ride quietly" signs at all vehicles — not just motorcycles.

After public discussion ended, Hurley expressed his frustration with the proposed boycott of Belfast businesses. He said he didn’t understand why the businesses were being held responsible for a discussion they weren’t a part of.

“The boycott thing really ticked me off, I won't sugarcoat it,” he said. “I’m willing to let it drop, but I want to see the boycott drop.”

All of the councilors agreed not to pursue installing signs asking motorcyclists, or any vehicles, to ride quietly in the city. City Manager Joseph Slocum said he chose not to purchase the signs, and enforcement of noise regulations would be handled by the police department.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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