By Steven Dahlman
13-Apr-17 – The City of Chicago will install equipment to listen for noisy motorcycles along Lake Shore Drive if a bill approved by the Illinois House of Representatives is passed by the Senate.
HB2361 would allow the city to install a noise monitoring system, like one at O’Hare International Airport, to analyze vehicle noise 24 hours a day along Lake Shore Drive.
“High-rise dwellers along Lake Shore Drive share complaints on a regular basis with their elected officials about vehicular noise,” says State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (left), who introduced the bill on February 3. “This is the first step to mitigate the problem of noise pollution along the drive and provide residents with some much-needed relief.”
The system would collect data to help engineers understand the noise implications of any changes they make to Lake Shore Drive. A report, prepared one year after installation, would be made available to the public.
“Almost all the motorcycles you hear have had their exhaust system deliberately tampered with,” says 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins (right). “In some cases, they’ve removed the muffler completely. During the summer months, packs of up to 20 or more motorcycles literally rattle the windows of some of the Lake Shore Drive high-rises at two, three, four in the morning.”
The city and state are working to expand motor vehicle laws to increase fines and allow Chicago police to impound a motorcycle after the third noise violation. In addition to paying a fine, the owner would have to go to court to show the motorcycle’s muffler is compliant with the law.
The bill was passed 85-30 in the House on April 5 and referred to committee in the Illinois Senate on April 6.
Photo by Steven Dahlman,
(Above) Chicago Fire Department’s Ambulance 42 on Wacker Drive.
Aldermen concerned about siren noise, too
Hopkins says he plans to introduce a city ordinance that would crack down on noisy emergency vehicles. The problem is not so much with Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police Department vehicles but with private ambulances, according to 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly.
“I’m told that private ambulance services roll the sirens non-stop for liability and insurance purposes and I’ve tried to talk to them,” says Reilly. “They basically say, sorry, it’s state law and you can’t touch us.”
Photo by Sarah Matheson
(Left) Alderman Reilly speaks to a meeting of Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. At right are 18th police district commander Paul Bauer and Peter Lemmon, senior transportation engineer with Kimley-Horn & Associates.
While state law requires the siren of an emergency vehicle to measure 100 decibels from 50 feet away, about as loud as a lawn mower or motorcycle, Reilly says the city’s police and fire departments rarely run their sirens indiscriminately, preferring lights and short horn blasts.
“If they’re jamming through rush hour traffic, you’re going to hear those sirens blaring. If you’re in the back of that ambulance, you want that. But later in the evening, or the morning or mid-morning when there isn’t as much traffic going on downtown, you’ll see them use the lights and short honks going through these intersections.”
Skyline/Inside Publications assisted with this story.