Photo credit: Nicolas Mirguet licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

Since last spring, I have been working with two community groups in Inwood/Washington Heights who are complaining about the increasing noise in their communities. One of their major complaints has centered around loud motorcycle noise roaring through their streets during the night and keeping them from falling asleep. Must I underscore the importance of sleep as it relates to health and do I need to stress the adverse impacts of noise on our health and well being in general? I believe most of us are familiar with these effects.

Yet, despite all community members’ complaints to their public representatives and police department officials, the roars of the motorcycles continue. Ray Villeda, in his article for NBC New York, notes that a police tweet stated in part “[r]iding dirt bikes and ATVs on NYC roadways and sidewalks is illegal.” Villeda adds that police told him that fines, arrests and vehicle seizures could follow illegal hike activity. The question to be asked, simply, is have the police taken the actions they cited? One community member thinks not, stating “[y]ou’ll hear motorcycles – 30,40, 50 – doing wheelies and police just, they’ll pass police cars and they’ll do nothing.”

I will now add the following: For laws to be effective, they must be enforced!

One biker interviewed for the article claimed that his riding did not harm anybody, saying “I ain’t doing nothing wrong, sorry if it’s a little noisy but that’s New York.” Residents do not consider the bike activity a “little noisy.” What about a discussion between community residents and bike riders to explore further their different opinions on motorcycle sounds?