Noise is in the ear of the beholder

"I have to wonder if this is all really about noise or just that someone doesn’t want to hear that sound by their house."

It’s no secret I love riding my motorcycle. And it’s no secret I love riding in the West Kootenay pretty much above any other region I’ve visited.

So the recent back-and-forth between petitioners seeking to enforce noise laws on loud motorbikes and the response from riding groups has caught my attention.

We’re all bombarded with noise we don’t like. You don’t have to sell that to the people of Trail who hear the humming from Teck 24-7.

But with that noise comes jobs, a community and a livelihood so we accept it as part of living in Trail. In turn, Teck does its best to keep the noise down and responds when complaints are made.

There are all types of noises that overwhelm us at times.

At the Trail Times office rarely does a day go by when someone blasting music has it turned up so loud that it rattles the windows. What’s worse is they leave their vehicle running and music blaring while they quickly run into the bank machine at Kootenay Savings.

It gets annoying, especially in the summer when windows are open, but after a couple of minutes the rolling thunder moves on and quiet returns.

Noise can mean different things to different people.

A crying baby in a restaurant might upset some people while others, who have shared that experience with their own kids, are more sympathetic and understanding.

I find that is often the case when it comes to motorcycles.

Again I’m a rider so I love to hear the rumble in the springtime, it’s like the proverbial horse in the corral who hears the rumble of wild mustangs in the distance and simply wants to join in the freedom and fun.

I understand that maybe not everyone sees or hears it that way and that has brought the subject to the forefront in the media.

The CBC picked up on the Trail Times story last week to craft its own version of the discussion.

Its story quoted a man from Nakusp claiming loud motorcycles go by constantly throughout the day, non-stop.

As someone who has enjoyed countless rides through Nakusp and over the hump to New Denver, I beg to differ.

Granted there are many bikes (and by that I mean motorcycles) on the highway throughout that beautiful part of the region but I disagree that all those bikes are loud.

In fact, it’s a small fraction in my opinion.

Just like there are loud cars, loud trucks, loud everything, there is a majority that conform to noise guidelines and only bother people that take the time to be bothered by such things.

I know some bikes are loud. When you ride on the highway and a loud bike passes you or is ahead of you, you realize the noise they generate.

But again, those are the exception not the norm.

So I have to wonder if this is all really about noise or just that someone doesn’t want to hear that sound by their house.

I’m sure if an accurate survey was taken, rather than a petition, which can be signed by anyone from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, it might tell a different story.

I don’t see the gas station owner in New Denver complaining when there are 10 motorcycles lined up to for fuel. Or the restaurant staff in Nakusp complaining that there are too many riders chowing down in their establishment.

I don’t see the motel owner, who boasts that their place is “bike friendly,” turning away business because the vehicle they came in on was too noisy.

In fairness to Gloria Lisgo of Silverton, who spearheaded the petition in the first place, she did point out in another interview that she wasn’t targeting all motorcycles just the over-the-top loud ones.

That’s fair game.

However, now people are piling on and just painting the entire riding community with the same brush.

That’s a dangerous trend no matter what the topic is.

But too often the ones who talk the loudest are the ones most heard and often most uninformed.

That’s a noise I don’t particularly like but I don’t believe if I started a petition against people like that it would fly. Or would it?

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times

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