ALTON - A motorcycle rights and safety promotion group plans to pay for signs to "quiet" motorcycles in Alton, as city officials begin the process to strengthen the city's anti-noise ordinance.
"We are going to be leaders in this," said Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst, who campaigned on quieting down motorcycles traveling on city streets and loud car stereos.
At Monday night's meeting of the aldermanic Committee of the Whole, Carleen Grant, state public relations coordinator for ABATE of Illinois (A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education), said the organization will pay for materials for more than 100 new motorcycle noise warning signs.
Two of the signs were displayed at the meeting, both white with black lettering and an image of a person riding a motorcycle with three, right-side parentheses behind it to indicate noise. The smaller sign reads, "When in Town, Keep it Down," and will be posted on city streets where motorcyclists frequent and in bars that cater to motorcyclists.
The larger sign reads, "Welcome to Alton, When in Town, Keep it Down," with the motorcycle silhouette and the words "Please ride respectfully" underneath. Those signs will go up on existing posts at entrances to the city.
Grant said a businessman's donation to ABATE will pay for the materials. The Alton Public Works Department will print and put up the signs after the new chapter to the noise ordinance goes into effect in coming months.
Last year, representatives from ABATE of Illinois and Missouri, 14 motorcycle clubs and three motorcycle dealers met with Alton Police Chief David Hayes to find ways to communicate the need to keep the sound down in Alton.
Since then, Grant and Bob Myers of Jerseyville, southwest region coordinator for ABATE of Illinois, had follow-up meetings with Hayes and Alton Corporation Counselor Jim Schrempf regarding the proposed noise abatement ordinance.
"This is an example of how a great working relationship can be," Grant said. "Two sides coming together with questions and concerns, devising solutions to overcome a concern and then implementing a plan of action. There has been a great line of open communication between motorcyclists and Alton City Hall during this process. Everyone met in the middle of the road."
Myers said the ordinance and reminder signs would not be a cure-all for the noise problem.
"Hopefully, it will alleviate the problem," he said. "A legal motorcycle coming down the road can have a little noise, but with 10 of them, the noise escalates."
Hayes said the process of getting a resolution and working on the warning signs took four months. The proposed addition to the city's noise abatement ordinance also applies to boom boxes, radios, televisions, musical instruments and amplified sirens, horns, whistles, bells or chimes - except churches and charitable contribution solicitors.
Regarding noise from sound amplification in vehicles, or noisy cars, trucks or motorcycles, the ordinance prohibits disturbing "the peace, quiet and comfort of passers-by or is plainly audible at a distance of 75 feet," unless it is an emergency vehicle.
The ordinance also says mufflers or exhaust systems must be maintained properly to prevent noise, and cannot be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device.
People also would be prohibited from yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in residential or noise-sensitive areas between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., "or at any time or place so as to disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of reasonable persons of ordinary sensitivities." Such noise from someone's bird or other animal also is prohibited; loudly loading or unloading merchandise, materials or equipment would be banned between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The ordinance prohibits "unreasonably loud or raucous noise or any noise that unreasonably disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons or ordinary sensitivity" within city limits.
Factors for determining whether a sound is unreasonably loud include "proximity of the sound to sleeping facilities, whether residential or commercial; land use, nature and zoning of the area from which the sound emanates and the area where it is received or perceived; time of day or night; duration of sound; whether the sound is recurrent, intermittent or constant; and whether the sound is necessary in order to conduct lawful activity."
Among the exemptions are sounds from utility structure repairs that pose a danger, alarm systems, outdoor school and playground activities and other outdoor events.
Grant said she plans to initiate a "media blitz" regarding the forthcoming ordinance, particularly to reach motorcyclists not affiliated with any club.