Motorcycle bans – blind actionism or respect for the rights of others?

Commentary against driving bans by johannes schlereth

Every year, with the start of the motorcycle season, the same old debate begins again: the bikes are too noisy. Residents feel that their sunday rest is being disturbed. This year, the political push: driving bans at neuralgic points are to solve the problem. This is actionism and nothing more than symbolic politics of a state that in this case has no muse to find a constructive solution. This can be clearly seen in the proposed resolution of the federal council. Aim of the paper: "the justified interests of residents and those of motorcyclists must be fairly balanced".

Motorcycle ban: a one-sided idea

But where is it, the "fair balance"?? In the decision, the federal council simply took over the demands of the initiators – various municipalities. The interests of the motorcyclists do not appear anywhere in the catalog. Other sources of noise, such as car tuners with oven pipes for exhaust, who cruise through the city center at night, are also not taken into account. The picture of a witch hunt on a traffic group is emerging.

Demands are insane

It is striking that a large part of the demands is simply hanebuchen. Examples pleasing? It should be possible to immobilize motorcycles that are too loud on the spot. This is already possible. Keeping up with the times: penalties for exhaust system tampering are to be made much stricter. If the police catches a larmsunder already now the result is clear: changes of this kind drove to the expiration of the operating license. A possible consequence besides a fine: shutting down the machine. For the biker in this case follow lengthy appointments at the tuv and the registration office.

A third example is the targeted noise limit of 80 decibels. Funny side information in this context: the upper limit for newly registered motorcycles from the 1. January 2016 is currently already at 77 decibels. Already a higher traffic volume or passing trucks are at 80 decibels. If the policy then bans private transport or truck deliveries as a consequence? The initiators of the pamphlet probably did not seek expert advice when they drew up their pamphlet.

Ban has had an impact on tourism

They are also inconsiderate of the operators of restaurants along the routes. For the initiators, the landlords are probably seen as a kind of collateral damage. If the motorcyclists stay away, the coffers remain empty.

And still it is true: noise is a problem that makes people ill. But how many motorcycles in germany are actually too loud is unclear. The "united working groups against motorcycle poverty" (VAGM) assume that 30 percent of motorcyclists are conspicuous due to massive alarming. The association refers to a study carried out by ACEM – an association of motorcycle manufacturers – in the early 2000s.

VAGM picks out the raisins of information

What the VAGM leave unmentioned: in the study it is made clear that already normal car traffic is louder than sport motorcycles. And: since the study was made almost 20 years ago, politicians have reacted. The larm regulations have been tightened considerably.

Most motorcyclists have been aware of this for a long time – which I can confirm as part of the scene. From the slogan "quiet is disc" there is not too much left. Very few people want to get into trouble with the police because their motorcycle is too loud. Especially not on a trip with friends. Bikers want to ride – and within the limits of what is permitted. If already after few kilometers in the saddle the ears – or the police sirens – drone has that with fahrspab only little to do. Unless you are masochistically inclined.

Reason and a steady hand are called for

Instead of collective punishments, solutions are needed to deal with the black sheep. This can be achieved through increased controls and educational work. And: larvae pollution must be more strongly addressed, for example in driving schools. In the end, the best sound steamer is still between the ears, because the motorcyclist has his riding style proverbially in his own hands.


Editor steffen standke has a different opinion. He thinks driving bans are unnecessary:

The federal council has "time-limited traffic bans on sundays and public holidays for reasons of alarm protection" inspired for motorcyclists – and reaped massive protests. But this step would be long overdue in the interest of long-suffering residents.

Freedom is one of the highest good in our democracy. This includes being able to express one’s opinion freely, to gather at demos (as bikers do in large numbers), to move freely at all. We use and demand all these freedoms, but we have also become very accustomed to them (we learned what their limitation means during the virus crisis).

What weighs more?

Freedom is important. But it becomes problematic when the freedoms that a certain group of people enjoy massively curtail those of others. What is more important: the need of residents to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet at least in the evening and at weekends (often after work is done)? Or the right to drive everywhere that is asphalted? You have to be clear: for some it’s about a basic human need, for others it’s about a hobby. Some even talk about luxury.

In this respect, the arguments of the bikers at the numerous demonstrations are not very convincing. You can’t be serious when you talk about "curtailing freedom rights" in connection with weekend rides and to put them on the same level with elementary rights like the freedom of opinion.

Intervention at neuralgic points

Often the demos are exaggerated. There is talk of "collective punishment" and the feeling is conveyed that motorcyclists should generally no longer be allowed to ride on weekends and holidays. It is more a matter of lowering the noise level of newly registered machines and adjusting the noise limits to the benefit of residents. Municipalities and also the police should get more rights to be able to counter the motorcycle madness. But not flat covering, but at places, where the shoe presses especially.

To all those who think that it would not be so bad, I say: sit down on sunny sundays and holidays on a village street in the rhon and listen to what is happening. From eleven o’clock at the latest, bikers usually invade the mountains in groups, threatening, roaring and bubbling. Before 21 o’clock the stream in the summer usually does not ebb away. I have also experienced something similar on federal, state and county roads around bad kissingen.

Manufacturers have failed to act

And no: they are not the famous single traps, the tuned ones who recklessly rev up their machines so that you can hear them approaching or leaving for kilometers through the forest.Motorcycle manufacturers have failed to make their models quieter in recent years (because they didn’t have to). Now the alarm increases with the number of those who can afford a motorcycle.In addition, it is unfortunately not a matter of course for many riders to get from A to B slowly and quietly. The pleasant buzz, the rush of speed – that’s what matters to them.

The illusion of freedom on two wheels

The bikers are chasing an illusion that is becoming less and less common on german roads: to be able to live out one’s passion on deserted tracks. Instead, the roads are more and more congested; every three to four kilometers you have to brake down because of settlements. The feeling of unrestrained freedom a la "easy rider" on "route 66? Can be forgotten in this country for a long time.

"Socially contractually quiet" should be the motorcycles that the industry produces in the future. This is not demanded by any biker-haters, but by the federal association of motorcyclists itself. This and a more considerate driving could solve the eternal conflict between residents and bikers. Without coercion and legal regulations this will not work. I don’t think that anything will change quickly.S.Standke@


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