Gotta `vroom,’ gotta pay
Motorcycles that double as thunderous noisemakers will now receive one and only one warning from local police.
Then, their owners will begin receiving citations for violations of Aspen’s noise ordinance.
“Based on recent and numerous complaints about motorcycle noise, the police department has established a program which will hopefully result in reduced noise,” said Aspen Police Chief Tom Stephenson. That program consists primarily of heightened enforcement, he said.
“We’re also asking citizens and other city employees to notify us if they observe an extremely loud motorcycle,” Stephenson said. “If a citizen witnesses the operation of a loud motorcycle, that citizen can call us [at 920-5400] with the license plate and we will attempt to contact the owner of that motorcycle, and if not in person, then by telephone or mail, and issue them their one and only warning for operating a motorcycle with a defective or prohibited muffler.”
The vast majority of motorcycles that can be characterized as “extremely loud” are Harley-Davidsons, the chief said, but the U.S. motorcycle company’s stock bikes will not be targeted.
“We’re targeting what are clearly illegal mufflers or modifications to mufflers,” he said.
More specifically, Stephenson cited cycles that have been fitted with “after-market straight pipes” or bikes on which the “baffles” have been removed. Both modifications, he said, increase the noise the cycles generate.
“The amount of noise in the community is a quality-of-life issue, and what I’m hearing is that people are unhappy with what they perceive as an increased noise level,” he explained.
A police officer, normally assigned to city traffic duty, will now be “keeping a particular ear for the muffler problem,” Stephenson said. And after a motorcycle operator receives one warning, police will write the offender a $17 citation for subsequent offenses. Stephenson added that in aggravating circumstances, officers may also write disorderly conduct tickets – on the basis of excessive noise – which carry up to $300 in fines.
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Mario Ruiz came to Aspen Highlands from Bariloche through the ski patrol exchange as part of the Sister Cities program last winter. He quickly ingrained himself with the Highlands patrol. Ruiz was killed July 27 in an avalanche while working at his home ski area. The Highlands patrol is raising funds for his family.