‘Real problem is antisocial behaviour, not the bikes’

THE PROBLEM with noisy motorbikes is not the bikes themselves but rather the antisocial behaviour of some of the riders on them, it was agreed at a public meeting.

Les Gallienne organised the meeting at Moores Hotel to address the issue of ‘unnecessarily loud’ motorbikes and cars that disturb the peace, particularly late in the evening.

The debate was a passionate one, with people representing both extremes of the argument and everything in between.

What was made clear early on was that, for example, a noisy Harley Davidson driving past might be loud for a couple of seconds, but it is the tampered-with exhausts on smaller bikes with riders revving the engines and causing a repeated disruption that people had an issue with.

James Larbalestier, from automotive company JL Innovation, was at the meeting and said it was quite heavily represented by older members of the community who were dead-set against vehicle noise and appeared prejudiced against younger riders, who were getting a bad name.

James Larbalestier of JL Innovation. (28934727)

‘If a loud motorbike rides past your house, sure, maybe it’s a bit noisy for a couple of seconds and it might be a bit annoying, but it’s not the same as a group of motorists gathering at the end of your clos doing burnouts, wheelies and wheelspins,’ he said, reminding the audience to keep some perspective.

‘And that’s where the difference is, it’s the antisocial behaviour of someone who happens to have a loud vehicle that is the problem.’

He sympathised with the majority of riders who were sensible and said it was the few that were not who gave the whole group a bad reputation.

James Larbalestier of JL Innovation. (28934731)

‘If a loud private plane flies over your house, you’re not going to call the police are you? It’s the same for one loud passing bike, but if it’s a constant disturbance then the public has to take the responsibility to gather evidence, take down registration numbers and be prepared to make a statement.’

He hoped something could be done to tackle the issue of antisocial use of motor vehicles, but recognised that the police have limited resources to monitor the issue and can really enforce only once they have had the help of the public.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Larbalestier asked who thought it was the behaviour of riders and drivers that was the problem, not the vehicles themselves, and almost the entire room raised their hands.

A Guernsey Police spokesperson said: ‘Officers do have powers to report the driver of vehicles that are considered to emit excessive noise – this is covered under the 1986 Vehicle Noise Ordinance.'

They did not have data on the number of incidents of this nature because cases may be dealt with via strong words of advice, especially if the excessive noise is being caused by the way the vehicle is ridden or driven.

‘We regularly go into schools to give assemblies and specific lessons about the law, road safety and pupils’ social responsibilities,' they said.

'Officers and Guernsey Police mechanics recently, for example, visited a school to inspect all motorbikes and scooters; if defects were found we dealt directly with the owner to ensure they were fixed as well as notifying parents.

‘We also carry out periodic operations where officers complete roadside checks on vehicles. Our last such operation was last month.’

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