California legislators deserve practically all of the criticism that gets heaped on them, but one vote today counts as music to my ears.

On Monday, as it headed toward adjournment of the regular two-year session, the state Senate approved legislation to crack down on noisy motorcycles. If it’s signed by the governor, and that’s no guarantee, given his collection of motorcycles, it will be illegal to alter the exhaust pipes so they violate noise standards. Unfortunately, the Assembly stripped out the provision subjecting motorcycles to the same smog checks as other vehicles, which would have been a simple – and even-handed – enforcement method.

I’m sure we’ll hear, scratch that, you can’t hear anything over modified mufflers, but you’ll read plenty of arguments about how loud pipes are all about safety. Perhaps we should give air horns to pedestrians. The fact is you can’t hear a motorcycle (or a car or a truck) until it passes. Then you can see them, so the motorcycle noise is only a nuisance. But you can’t miss them through the windows at home or at work. And that’s an even bigger nuisance.

— Jim Sweeney

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