The Environmental Protection Agency wants to clean up pollution from motorcycles. Motorcycle enthusiasts don’t want the government telling them how to operate their street bikes. It’s become a battle between bikers and bureaucrats. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The Environmental Protection Agency wants to clean up pollution from
motorcycles. Motorcycle enthusiasts don’t want the government telling
them how to operate their street bikes. It’s become a battle between
bikers and bureaucrats. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
(pipe sound #1)
Bikers turn their heads when they hear a pair of exhaust pipes cackling
by. The sound catches their attention as much as the style and chrome on
the motorcycle. Bikers such as Neil Toepfer say making changes such as
with exhaust pipes are a part of the culture of motorcycle enthusiasts.
“That’s how we express ourselves, making changes on the bike that make
it even more fuel efficient or perform the way that we the rider want it to perform.”
And the sound of the bike is a big part of identity for many riders.
(pipe sound #2)
But motorcycle riders such as Toepfer say they’re concerned about an
Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would crack down on
motorcycle exhaust systems. Toepfer and others have gone so far as to
ride their bikes to Washington to let Congress know they oppose the
EPA messing around with their freedom to modify their bike pipes.
“The thing with the EPA… and I’m probably going to get
somebody’s nose out of joint when I say this… but the EPA is just a
government agency. They don’t answer to the people. They don’t listen to
the people. They’re bureaucrats that have their own agenda.”
Toepfer is being mild compared to what some other bikers are saying
about the EPA. There seems to be a bit of a culture clash. A poster on
the internet by one motorcycle riders association depicts a mock-up of
an assault rifle toting EPA official in riot gear. The caption reads “He’s
from the Government, but he’s not here to help.” It goes on to read “He’s
here to take your heritage. He’s here to take your freedom. He’s here to
take your motorcycle.”
Many bikers say they don’t understand why the EPA is going after their
motorcycle exhaust pipes…
(pipe sound #3)
Mike Hayworth is the owner of Watson’s Wheels of Madness, a custom
motorcycle shop in Alton, Illinois. He suspects the problem is either the
government bureaucrats don’t have enough to do… or do-gooders who
can’t mind their own business…
“These environmentalist people, they want to rule our lives
and they’re going to take and do whatever they can to say ‘We got to stop
this and we got to stop that.’ What kind of pollution does a motorcycle –
there’s not enough motorcycles in the United States to pollute anything.”
That same argument is being made in Washington, D.C. Thomas Wyld is
a lobbyist with Motorcycle Riders Foundation. He says a study by the
California Air Resources Board found that street bikes were only
responsible for six one-thousandth of a percent of all motor vehicle
“And if you took that pollution inventory of motor vehicles and
made it equivalent of a 100-yard football field, street motorcycles would
occupy a quarter of an inch on that field.”
Wyld adds that motorcycles are fuel efficient, reduce traffic congestion,
and take up less parking space. Wyld says those are things the EPA
should be encouraging instead of pestering bikers with exhaust
(pipe sound #4)
The EPA is a little baffled by all the noise about the emissions proposal.
Don Zinger is with the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.
He says the bikers don’t understand the proposal…
“These new requirements will have absolutely no effect on
Zinger says any new restrictions on exhaust systems would only affect
new motorcycles that come off the assembly line after the restrictions are
implemented… probably four years from now.
And Zinger notes… motorcycles pollute a lot more than most people
“A typical motorcycle built today produces about 20 times as
much air pollution as a new car today over every mile that’s driven. 20
times. That’s pretty significant.”
So, the EPA says street motorcycles should be made to pollute less, as
the EPA has required many other types of vehicles to do.
Many bikers believe the EPA is targeting street motorcycle riders
because they’re a small segment of society with a reputation of being on
the wild side. EPA officials say bikers won’t notice a difference in the
sound or performance of the bikes under the proposed emissions
restrictions… but it will mean they’ll pollute less.
(bike pipes leaving the scene)
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.