North Yorkshire crime commissioner promises to tackle problem of noisy motorbikes

Police stop a biker in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: North Yorkshire Police.

North Yorkshire’s crime commissioner has spoken of a police force’s determination to tackle motorcycles making illegal noise levels after residents accused officers of failing to crack down on adapted vehicles which have caused them “misery” since lockdown restrictions were eased.

As residents of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks and surrounding areas braced themselves for a continuation of what some claim has been record numbers of motorbikes visiting the county in recent weekends, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said residents were being subjected to “alarming and unfair behaviour”.

Her comments follow calls from members of a Yorkshire Dales National Park advisory body to launch vehicle-free days to recapture the tranquillity of the strictest lockdown period and chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority Jim Bailey stating the area was not the place for “noise for the sake of making noise”.

Mr Bailey said while those living in the park area needed to be accommodating as it was unclear how visitors may have been affected by the pandemic, there was “a need to be more tolerant, and that goes both ways”.

Meanwhile, residents and visitors to the national parks have made scores of complaints this week about motorcyclists using machines with noisy illegal exhausts.

Heather Walker, who lives near Grassington, said she had been suffering “ear blasting” noise from motorbikes from 5am on a weekend morning until dark.

She said: “It’s a real problem. We cannot sit in our garden or have our back door open. Conversation is impossible. We have complained and complained to the police, chief constable and recently the crime commissioner. We’ve had enough. Something has to be done it’s affecting our health, especially in lockdown, where our garden is all we have.”

Park visitor Maureen Harrison said she had moved her caravan due to noise and fumes from illegal exhausts. She said: “Motorcyclists using the road up to Streethead and Bishopdale are the worst noise polluters I have ever experienced. Large powerful bikes take the hill with no extra noise, but those with illegal exhausts are horrendous. Somebody else’s fun was my worst nightmare.”

Describing motorcyclists as “a menace”, North York Moors resident Jean Lewis said she had been subjected to the “constant roar of bike engines from 3am in the morning to late at night” in recent weeks.

While some motorcyclists say they are being scapegoated for the actions of a minority other residents said they had collected evidence that some riders were far exceeding the 82 to 86 decibel maximum legal noise level for motorcycles.

Wensleydale resident John Loader said he had a noise meter and had found many bikes were above 100 decibels. He said: “Police need to be issued with meters in the same way as speed guns.”

Mrs Mulligan said she was aware of the impact that loud motorcycles have for communities across North Yorkshire and, as people return to the county as lockdown rules are eased, the issues had been raised as “a particular problem”.

She said: “It is a challenging problem to deal with – by the time residents are able to report the situation, the riders have moved on.

But it is yet another example of the alarming and unfair behaviour evident in recent weeks. Alarming because we should still be doing all we can to control Coronavirus and unfair because people are treating North Yorkshire as a playground and not the home it is for those of us who live here.

“From loud noise from motorcycles to speeding through our rural communities and visitors blocking roads by parking inconsiderately, I know police officers and staff are determined to address these issues and protect our communities. While engaging and encouraging in the first instance, it is absolutely right they then enforce the rules where necessary – not just those related to Coronavirus, but through all their powers to keep North Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.”



  1. Its time something was done, the bikers are out all weekend when the weather is fair and have zero consideration of anyone but themselves. You can hear one bike carrying one person a couple of miles either way as they drive past, but Foster Bob takes a bus full past and you don’t hear a thing. I was told that the police have no power to prove an exhaust isn’t legal, they need VOSA to do that and VOSA don’t work weekends!!

    • My wife and I both ride Harley Davidsons,and as most people know they are louder than the average Bike,this is how they are Built,yes we do go up and around the Dale’s to enjoy the scenery and to get away from the rat race,ime 63 years old my wife is 54,so we don’t race round the place like a lot of others,we are curtioes to others especially horse riders as they are road users too,we have to put up with Tractors,combined,horse shite on the roads which is realy dangerous,but this is the countryside and part and parcel of day to day life in the Dale’s,wich we appreciate,most Bikers will stop and spend money in lots of places in the Dale’s which benefit the rural economy,what I don’t believe is motorcycles been out at 3 in the morning,and yes some people do put aftermarket exhausts on their bikes wich do sound so bloody annoying,so yes we do understand the problem,BUT,please don’t paint us all with the same Brush,

    • A rather sweeping generalisation. I’m a motorcyclist and I have the utmost consideration for others.

  2. I thought motorcycles had to have an MOT? Why not fail those that are too noisy & make them change any modifications back to make them more acceptable?

    • Most will slip the original exhaust back on when MOT time arrives, then back home to put the noisey one back on once they have the passed certificate in hand. It does not take a genius to see or hear that an exhaust is not standard, they have to be stamped with a BSAU number when legal. Most aftermarket exhausts will be stamped with “not for road use” instantly showing it is illegal, why can the police not issue fines on the spot for the offence. Some carry light meters to measure the light transmission through tinted windows on cars so why not carry a decibel meter? I am a bike owner and used to work for a company that made the aftermarket exhausts. My bike is completely standard and I have no wish to be noisey. We have enjoyed the extra quiet during lock down from bikes and now the cars are really a pain with exhaust systems popping and banging on the gear changes. Hurry up electric….

  3. Re Julia Mulligan’s comments on promising to tackle issues around bikes fitted with illegal exhausts emitting deafening noise levels,how and what exactly is she going to do to resolve it?? Its just words again! No action.

    • This seems to be a very one sided and sensationalist media report. Why have motorcycle groups not been asked for a comment? Do cars 4×4 and even some trucks and tractors not make excessive noise, or the problem of any member of the general public showing lack of consideration for other’s and the area’s they visit. It’s almost like complaining about the noise aeroplanes make if you buy a house near an airport.

  4. Unfortunately this is another example of a minority few casting aspersions on the majority. Many of today’s motorcycles operate with high revving engines. Two and a half to three times the revs at maximum to that of most cars. Therefore bikes passing through 30/40mph zones can often sound to the uninitiated (having relatively high revs) as though they are “speeding”.
    As is often the case in life, a few spoil the reality of the majority. Of course, those with modified exhausts and/or over exuberance should of course be taken to task.
    However, the majority are reasonable and responsible individuals. Because of the characteristics of their machines they can often, quite safely, use the rapid acceleration and braking of the machine to quickly and safely overtake.
    Most problems stem from lack of rider/driver road education. Understanding and obeying of the basic rules. Use of mirrors, observation, adequate anticipation, correct signalling, ability and training to “read the road”, basic courtesy , respect for all road users etc., Equally applicable to both drivers and riders. All the attributes of the advanced rider/driver.
    Some police forces are believed to actively encourage rider/drivers to seek out advanced courses. They are of immense benefit in promoting safer and subsequently more considerate driving which automatically curbs most noise in inappropriate places. An advanced rider/ driver can make quicker safer and considerate progress, than an over-exhuberant untrained one. Just watch the highly trained police pursuit drivers on tv.
    Finally, no I am not a motorcyclist. I am an octogenarian and have been an advanced driver for over fifty years and proud of it. At the risk of sounding somewhat self-righteous, you learn a few things in that time. One of them is recognise your own mistakes (we all make them !) . However, by and large the biking fraternity are not a bad bunch, they have their rogues, but doesn’t every faction? Unfortunately they are often mis-understood. Give them a break folks.

    • You say ‘Give the a break.’ Why? Give them a break to use the Dales as a racetrack?
      The majority of them aren’t here for the scenery and the wildlife… they’re here to blast around the roads.
      How can they be admiring the scenery at the speeds they go? They are a menace to the tourist industry – why would a family of four with one car who rent a cottage for a week (and spend money on food t eat in and out) want to come back when their peace is constantly shattered by motorbikes?

      • They are your tourist industry, and yes the view can go by quickly. That means more views viewed. Tell us, The next family to rent your cottage for a week. Will you be asking them if anyone owns a motorcycle and refusing to rent out if the answer is yes?

    • Well said..we shouldnt be all tarred with same brush…I agree some riders AND car drivers are inconsderate to other road users…but most bikers are law abiding and respectful of others…

  5. We have the same problem every weekend in Elvington and Weldrake hundreds of motorcycles speeding through and around our villages.

    • I think you’re exaggerating somewhat. The roads around Ellington and Wheldrake are pretty rubbish for bikes, with poor surfaces, too much traffic and too many 30mph limits. Hundreds? Really?

  6. I’d agree some bikes are a bit too loud as are an awful lot of cars. But it was refreshing to see in Sherburn residents sticking up for bikes asking why people had moved there when they knew it is a haven for bikers. Me? I love the sound of bikes anyday over the noise of the moaners…

  7. I feel sorry fie the residents in question ,but this is a nationwide problem ,illegal exhausts on both bikes and cars are exactly that. Illegal. They should be removed from the road till the exhaust is replaced with the standard quiet one

    • Not all exhaust are illegal if they are illegal it will say on the exhaust NOT FOR ROAD USE that goes for any exhaust if it does not say that there is nothing the police can do about it if it is road legal and has baffles in it and it passes a mot with it on it’s all above board and legal

      • totally agree if it doesn’t say not for road u
        use totally legal loud but legal

  8. The fact that it’s been so quiet on the roads for the last few Months is making this far worse, Not all of us are irisponsible but it’s going to give the Police an excuse to stop everyone and while some of them will be “fair” I think others will use as an excuse to go over your Bike with a Magnifying glass. Just take it easy through the Town’s.

  9. We have the same problem in Cracoe. If it’s a bank holiday or a sunny weekend we get tons of mbikes doing ton ups down our village street. Many cars speed also, but the bikes you can hear from over a mile away. Why should locals have to put up with this inconsiderate behaviour. We are not a theme park!

    • It’s simple if we pay our tax insurer and test our bikes we can ride anywhere we want the same as you the dales are not yours they belong to everyone as in the wording National Park

    • “tons of mbikes doing ton ups down our village street” I very much doubt you have ‘tons’ of motorcycles (100s) all doing ton up (100mph) through your hamlet every weekend and bank holiday, It would be an accident black spot worthy of speed cameras if that were so. And I don’t see any speed cameras there. Perhaps, just maybe, if those who have complaints kept them factual, and to the point, avoiding the exagerations that I read from all of them, then maybe, just maybe, people might accept what you say.

  10. I am a retired police motorcycle instructor and past IAM examiner. I ride a Harley as does my 70 year old friend. We ride out together, never speed or make revving sounds. We both have what people may describe as loud exhausts but they are both legal and have passed the MoT. As a generalisation, Harley riders don’t tend to do that. I too have heard obvious modified exhausts on some usually smaller bikes. As an ex traffic officer it can be quite difficult to prove an offence has been committed. On a lot of occasions people my think an offence has been committed, when it hasn’t. I do really sympathise with residents who have suffered unnecessary and inconsiderate noise, particularly at such an early time. Over-revving is never acceptable.

  11. As a motorcyclist for over 30 years I agree that some exhausts may seem a little loud. However I find it hard to believe that people complaining are able to judge they are illegal. How do they know? As far as I was aware there is no physical noise test on an MOT. Only the testers discretion. Same as a car. I am looking forward to retirement so I can waste my time moaning about unworthy subjects. #staysafe

    • Well actually in the UK and Europe there is, depending on the year the bike was manufactured it was made to standards that included noise output to gain type approvals etc. The latest regulations are UNECE Regulation 41, which is 77 dB(A) which is the same as a modern car. The Previous limit and will apply to many older machines was 80dB(A) when manufactured. A small number of much older machines, classic and vintage may have no upper noise limit when manufactured. There is no empirical measurement at an MOT, but the noise level is a subjective judgement by the tester.

  12. I do hope something is done about this. I live just outside Aysgarth and the bikers I am sure are over the speed limit with the noise and the speed they do on the straight stretches where the police never have their speed camera vans and they do no good as the motor cyclists let the others know where the traps are on their phones. Every summer weekend its the same its been so lovely and peaceful while the lock down was on. Bring on electric motor bikes I say.

  13. Living near two of the Southern bikers favourite roads (A32 & A272) I see a lot of bikes, and hear too loud bikes occasionally, most don’t speed through villages and aren’t illegally loud. Locals driving their cars & 4×4’s however speed through the villages, the London car lunatic’s heading fore the coast also speed usually well before the Police speed trap vans are out and being high revving with barely any silencing often sound like bikes. They trialled a noise camera last year near the famous/infamous ‘Loomies’ biker cafe, they didn’t do a press release afterwards, much to the anger of the ex-London NIMBIES who’ve retired to the area and forced out the local young people in the process, I suspect because the noise camera caught too few bikes compared to the numbers using the road, and other vehicles.

    • Where’s the evidence that ‘loud pipes save lives’? Just as likely to startle other road users according to other blogs and posts. There’s certainly evidence that traffic noise is detrimental for overall physical and mental health for those who have to live with it (its not just bikers though – lots of loud cars too). I wish bikers well but I don’t quite get the argument that goes: I do something which I consider risky and so try to lessen that risk by adding something which is illegal and which adversely impacts on the lives of others so that I can do something which is entirely my choice?

  14. One commented on family of 4 wouldn’t go back cos of noise, but bikers go back every weekend, spending money,my bike has a noisy pipe but I ride it steady so the tone is lower, but it has saved my life so many times cos of drivers not using mirrors, a quick rev bomb makes them aware you are there unlike trying to find the horn button with big leather gloves on , one town near me makes enough money on a Sunday alone to last them the rest of the week, ,,bikers will always get bad press , but the biking community always come together for Charity ride,memorial rides ,children in need, Easter eggs runs,,if we stopped all that cos we are easy targets all the time lots of money will be lost ,BAND OF BLUE ,appreciation ride,after lock down all over the UK with 1000s of us raising 1000s upon 1000s for the NHS to help maybe one of your family members just stop and think about that,,, YES I get your beef with noise pollution I really do, but they are only doing what they love,like any other interest,

  15. I ride a Harley Davidson and yes it is loud if I rev it. However these machines are not for racing about on. They’re for touring on. My wife rides with me and we go places together. When parked at a beauty spot people come and talk as it attracts attention. The parents of children often ask to have their photo taken standing next to it so I don’t see that it puts visitors off going.
    Most of the people I know who ride are considerate of others and are often riding to raise money for charity. However can the same be said for car users with loud exhausts and stereos. Some cars I’ve been next to in traffic have stereos that I can hear over the sound of my bike with my helmet on and the windows of the car closed. Surely this is as much a menace if not more than an individual on a motorcycle.

  16. The Yorkshire Dales are getting more motorcycles than usual at the moment because Wales is still in lockdown and out of bounds, I’m sure things will calm down soon.

  17. I have two Triumph motorcycles, both have standard fit exhausts, and neither are particularly loud, but motorcycles tend to be noisy whatever.
    Agreed, there are a few irresponsible bad apples that spoil it for everyone, but that also applies to cars, trucks, tractors even buses, nobody is immune to producing noise.
    I have an issue with my neighbour (a young lad) who has modified the exhaust in his Mercedes A class car (why?, god knows), you should hear that when he starts it up at 5am. There is nothing I can do about it, I assume it’s street legal, otherwise it would fail its MOT.
    Just don’t tar all motorcyclists with the same brush, we are not all the same.

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