The ear-splitting noises produced by two-wheelers like motorcycles have been a cause for concern for the public in Toronto. The noise pollution created by the loud motorcycles prevents the people from enjoying a peaceful and calm life. Most times, these noises are much beyond the permissible levels that they cause a wide range of problems from sleep disturbances to impaired hearing. The editorial article in The Star.com raises this issue and strongly supports the idea of cracking down on loud motorcycles with municipal licensing and standard staff to report back on ways to achieve the aforesaid goal.
The article mentions about the noise by-law passed in Edmonton, which urges the bike riders to reduce the noise pollution. They enforce this bylaw, using special sound meters, spot checks and imposing fine on those who violate the permissible sound limits. Though bikers are only a group that contribute to noise pollution, many of them do so, by modifying the noise levels of the bikes, either for fun or claiming that they reduce accidents because of the better attention.
In any case, the negative externality caused by the bikers can be shown as in the graph 1. Without any restriction, ignoring the external costs to the public, the noise output level is at Q1. This is not “economically good”, as it is not efficient in social welfare terms, because the social costs are greater than social benefits at Q1. Social efficient level of noise output occurs at Q2, where social costs and social benefits are equal. The area of Δ abc shows the dead weight welfare loss, which indicates that bikers are producing noise outputs much greater than the social optimum level (Marginal Social Cost greater than Marginal Private Cost).
I strongly agree that a policy similar to that which was followed in Edmonton should be implemented in Toronto, because from a social welfare viewpoint, the noise output level should be less. The society can be better off with the reduced level of noise emission by the bikers. To achieve a more socially efficient outcome, the government should impose restrictions like fines on those bikers who create noise pollution. This means that bikers pay the full social cost. Additionally, those motorcyclists, who are fined more than a given limit, should get their licenses cancelled. Another measure that can be enforced in this regard is to introduce noise quota system for the bikers in the noise footprint areas of Toronto. Quota schemes are quantitative controls on the levels of noise output produced by the bikers, which would encourage them to use devices like silencers to reduce the noise output keeping it within the permissible levels. Such noise schemes should be introduced to other sources of noise pollution too. This would make the procedures to control noise pollution impartial and more effective, as the other agents contribute to noise pollution, as equally or more as the bikers do.
Strong enforcement of such a move will surely gain the attention of bike riders, when they routinely violate the noise ordinances. The main economic principle highlighted by the article is that anyone who makes an action that causes a negative externality is responsible to compensate it and thus, internalise that externality.
"Toronto Should Crack down on Loud Motorcycles: Editorial.”. TheStar.com. Toronto Star Newspapers.4 Nov. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/08/25/toronto_should_crack_down_on_loud_motorcycles_editorial.html>.
Graph 1. Negative externality caused by noise pollution.