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Modified motorcycles disturb the peace

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As spring weather greets the Napa Valley, we are again disturbed by loud noise from motorcycles that have illegally altered exhaust systems.

Most of the noise is created by Harley-Davidsons, which have large V-twin engines. Statistics indicate that somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of V-twin motorcycles have had their legal (and quiet), factory-installed, EPA-approved mufflers modified (baffles or muffler removed) or removed and replaced with loud, noncompliant, aftermarket exhaust mechanisms. These modifications make the bikes very loud. They emit two to six (or more) times the legal maximum motorcycle noise emissions specified by the EPA. Yet police officers look the other way, even when they hear and see these bikes and could easily issue citations to offenders.

For over seven years, I have asked local police, CHP, the sheriff and politicians why no citations are issued. I have spoken before city council meetings, have had meetings and discussions with police and politicians, and have written many letters to the editor. Excuses are always made as to why nothing can be done. I have been told that they don't want to discourage bikers from spending money here (from a city council member); that it is not a priority and is too difficult to do (from a police chief); that we need more bikes coming here, not fewer (a mayor); that this issue would not be addressed as long as he held his job (city manager); and that it is a unique problem, as the bikes are "transient" (from the head of local CHP).

When you consider the degree of disturbance of the peace caused by the bikes, combined with the millions of taxpayer dollars that support the local police departments, sheriff's office and CHP, allowing the noise to continue unabated is a travesty and a rip-off imposed upon all of us who reside here. We deserve to have the authorities address this problem. We pay our taxes, and with that, there is an implied contract with the government that it is the duty of law enforcement officers to protect the public.

Don Scott lives in Napa Valley. He retired from a career as a land agent for the county of Sonoma. He is passionate about conservation of the environment and preserving old MG sports cars.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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