Originally Published: July 21, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Have you heard the latest uproar? Of course you haven't - it's too loud.
So say some residents who frequent downtown. Others say the bluster is louder than any motorcycle exhaust pipe.
We say everyone should turn down the volume on complaining and let people go about their own business downtown. Also, let the police do their job. There is already a downtown noise ordinance in place, and the police reported to the city Tuesday that new measures are coming.
First, the bikers. Bikers seem to be taking the brunt of the anti-loud crowd's wrath, and it doesn't take a chopper scholar to know that many owners remove factory pipes in favor of the customary revved-up ones in a motorcycle tradition as old as leather jackets. We're not sure if we go completely along with the safety alibi that more decibels save bikers' lives. We'll admit that the extra thunder may factor into raised awareness on city streets if the bikers admit that the extra thunder is just, well, part of the fun for them.
The police, for their part, are listening. The department will buy a pair of decibel meters to measure whether downtown noise will violate the current city ordinance that prohibits a subjective standard of "loud and disturbing noise." They also remind us that a noise ordinance not only already exists downtown but is enforced at the rate of 73 noise-related citations just in the past year.
We support the ordinance, and police don't seem reluctant to cite violators. If anyone downtown is truly disturbing the peace by violating others' rights to enjoy an environment free of overbearing muffler echo, those rights will be honored.
And bikers, feel welcome to come downtown on chrome hogs and two wheels and celebrate your right to do so.
Police Chief Mike Kabbel put it best when he bypassed laws, ordinances and subjective freedoms by reminding everyone within earshot that noise issues come down to "respect for one another."
Everyone has rights. Do enough people respect everyone else's?
Switch on the decibel meters and find out.