Police plan for crackdown on loud motorcycles in North Smithfield

North Smithfield Police Chief Tim Lafferty

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Melissa Flaherty said she’s been at funeral services in town that have to be paused so a group of loud motorcycles – with modified, illegal exhaust systems – can pass by.

It’s a problem, Flaherty told members of the Town Council this week, that she just can’t tolerate for another year without speaking out.

“As much as I love spring, I hate the noise in this town,” Flaherty said Tuesday night.

She’s not alone. Towns including Tiverton, Little Compton, East Greenwich and more have taken action to cut down on the disruption from loud motorcycles. In Newport, plans are underway to set up noise detection cameras that will automatically send out tickets to those who violate the city’s noise ordinance.

Other towns, such as Bristol, have put up large signs notifying riders of their intent to enforce the law.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency classifies motorcycle noise as a pollutant – and notes it has medical consequences.

“Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health,” notes an EPA write-up on Title IV of the Clean Air Act. “Problems related to noise include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.  Noise Induced Hearing Loss is the most common and often discussed health effect, but research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health affects.”

The standard for street-legal exhaust noise emissions is 80 decibels, which Flaherty noted is the typical amount of noise you might hear from a car taking off. But According to Noise Off, a national noise abatement organization, 60-70 percent of bikers remove mandated factory-installed exhaust equipment, and replace it with something beyond the legal limit.

“Those are the kind of motorcycles that go through town all weekend long,” Flaherty said. “You have to stop speaking because you can’t hear yourself, and this is every single Saturday and Sunday all summer long.”

Flaherty noted that bikers traveling through town are breaking the law on two levels: by removing the mandatory equipment and exceeding North Smithfield’s noise ordinance. The problem, she noted, affects those along main roads such as Route 102, Pound Hill and Black Plain Roads – but side streets are not immune to the noise.

“It’s the whole town,” Flaherty said. “I don’t think I’ve ever brought this up in the past couple of years without someone saying ‘oh in my neighborhood…'”

Councilor Claire O’Hara agreed, saying that sometimes Greenville Road is, “like a racetrack.” This year, she noted, “With a mild winter, it didn’t stop much.”

Police Chief Tim Lafferty said the best way to address the problem in town is likely by issuing equipment violations.

“I can start out tomorrow with the traffic division and we will try to set up some sort of traffic enforcement unit just to deal with the noise,” Lafferty said Tuesday.

Flaherty said he hopes to put task force together to earmark areas, such as Victory Highway, for focused enforcement.

“We know there’s some popular spots,” he said.

For some residents, it seems an end to the nuisance is long overdue.

“They don’t care,” Flaherty said of those driving the loud vehicles. “They’re at the town common just gunning thier engines.”

“I can’t do it for another summer, and I know my neighbors feel the same way,” she said. “I don’t think we’d have to give out a lot of tickets before the biker clubs will all say ‘don’t go through North Smithfield, they’re enforcing this.'”

Lafferty agreed.

“Word gets around,” the chief said. “We can’t be everywhere, but we’ll try to do the best we can.”

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  1. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read ! Maybe if y’all paid attention and didn’t hit every bike you see maybe we wouldn’t have to make our bikes louder so we can scare you from getting off ya damn phone and paying attention to the road there have been more accidents involving bikes in the past 2 years than I’ve seen in my life ! Get off ya phones and we wouldn’t need loud pipes!!!!!!

    • So explain why my neighbor has to warm his up in June for 30 minutes. Explain why he has to rev it up the driveway at 1am only to park it and start it at 2am to move it five feet into the garage? I’m done and just call NSPD anytime he revs after 11pm. He makes me hate you all regardless of your intentions. And don’t get me started on the radios on those things. Have you heard of earplugs? Call me old, I don’t care…I’d take every one of those Harleys off the road. For the record, I don’t look at my phone when driving…that drives me bananas too but that’s NOT why most Harley owners have a Harley,

      • Omg, our neighbors must be related! Attention seeking behavior. I laugh at it. Apparently low esteem and low testosterone needs to be begotten in whatever way possible….lol.

  2. Thís has to be a comedy piece. The NS police have done nothing with enforcing the speed limits, offroad motorcycles, golf carts on the roads, barking nuisance dogs, handheld cell phone usage, and loud music blaring from cars and homes. Going after a hand full of loud street ridden legally registered and inspected motorcycles should be interesting.

    • Spot on. The police will not stop or enforce the noise issue. If you see in the article they are going to create a task force. Which is code for a few meetings and zero results.

  3. How about enforcement of laws on books first. Like Handheld Devices. More dangerous than loud pipes. I see like 1 in 5 people on phones everyday.

  4. Are they going to be enforcing lawn mowers as well? How about all the parades? Emergency vehicle’s sirens/horns? Those are above the 80 decibels and can cause irreparable hearing loss.

    • Did you know that the average house starts shaking at around ~95 decibels. This is for today, the snowblowers that might’ve gotten used today is around 85 decibels, the plow that drove by clearing the road for everyone was well above that as it shook my house and myself awake. What about the tree trimming trucks due to snow/wind knocking them over, once again above 80 decibels.
      Do I own a motorcycle? No. Should they be started at midnight? Only if going to their place of employment, not everyone can work 9-5. Does this bash Art? No, I actually feel for him, because when I worked nights, and my neighbor behind me started construction at 8am on their addition it was not pleasant. If anything it might bash his neighbor a lot.
      Going back to weather now, thunder is above 80 decibels. Who would we even target for that fine? A fire alarm is over 80 decibels, how dare they save my life from my bad cooking. Fireworks are above 80 decibels, do we need to fine Beauregard for the fireworks that went off for that event he planned during the summer? My point is that there are other things are more important, like for example, the new potholes that are going to show up due to the plows chunking the roads as they plow or just the overall abysmal state of disrepair they’re in. Or having a balanced budget to where we can pay for the infrastructure improvements that are badly needed other than roads, like cleaning up the polluted water ways or giving those residents town water.

  5. They just have to park a cruiser next to the Beef Barn during any warm spring/summer/fall evening. Constant straight-piped Harley Davidsons going full throttle up the Industrial highway starting at 4 PM straight through until closing time.

    • Mea culpa JP, yes I did read the article and know all parties in the article. Nowhere does it mention Great Road or Branch Village. Sorry to have made a slight mistake in my references. My apologies to the “Chief.” Hope that satisfies you, JP1165.

  6. Victory Highway and Great Road too, Captain Lafferty. Those of us who live in Union Village also suffer from the noise. Rotate the signs, ticket them and enforce the ordinance.

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