I witnessed a motorcycle accident today. It was really loud and is the second one I’ve seen in 6 months. In both cases I didn’t hear the motorcycle before I heard it in the accident. It’s an awful sound. The one before this sounded like a plane landing next to you. It sounds like nothing else you hear and all you know is something somewhere has gone terribly wrong. There’s the collision plus the bike slides on the pavement. While I don’t like motorcycle noise, I now think motorcycle noise is protective. It puts surrounding cars on notice that a motorcycle is around. Cars just aren’t looking for them, and they can disappear in a car’s mirror easily.
So I was surprised to learn that legally in the US across states statute-wise there are frequently ceilings on motorcycle noise–for example, 84 dba at 50 feet in Colorado–but apparently no minimums. You can be whisper quiet like a bicycle. But bicycles are mostly always on the right-most side of the road and are slow. Being whisper quiet and visually slight while sandwiched between mammoth SUVs, trucks and cars carries a danger, I’m now convinced. And I’m surprised that at this point in transportation history that manufacturers–the insurance industry really, hasn’t actuarially linked motorcycle noise to accident risk–I assume they haven’t given the lack of any minimums. I’d like to see a simple regression analysis of auto/SUV/truck and motorbike accident as a function of motorcycle noise decibels by speed. I wonder how frequently loud Harleys are ever in accidents due to other drivers’ fault. Finding a connection might lead insurers to lobby for a noise minimum of so many decibels–and engineering for more noise is easy for manufacturers. The rider could not get up and was taken via ambulance but here’s the bike after a cop set it upright.
Apparently the bike went vertical in collision with the car or completely overturned to acquire top level damage like this. The color of the car was light silver, like the color of the damage though the damage appears done by a rough surface like the road rather than a car panel, and the car’s passenger side rear quarter panel looked pretty beat up afterwards. I saw the rider as he landed on his side and rolled onto the sidewalk next to his assaulted bike.