Exhaust Emissions From Motorcycles

RECEIVED Tue., May 31, 2005

Dear Editor:
   All conventions and group meetings create costs for our region as well as bringing revenue for our businesses and cities. However, I have never read where the costs that apply to air quality, solid waste, and expenses for public safety have been quantified, but we do pay a price.
   The Republic of Texas (ROT) Motorcycle Rally, which takes place in early June, is one example. An estimated 35,000 motorcyclists meet at the Travis County Expo Center, and the sounds of their straight-piped exhaust can be heard in many parts of town.
   Exhaust emissions from motorcycles are high, particularly for carbon monoxide. With the gradual decline in ozone-forming emissions from passenger vehicles since the 1980’s non-SUV passenger vehicles are already cleaner than a motorcycle on a one-to-one comparison. For example, it is astonishing to note that one motorcycle emits the equivalent in ozone-forming emission of up to 20 current model year VW Beetles (www.epa.gov/autoemissions/E-VOLKSWAGEN-NewBeetle-04.htm).
   If 30,000 motorcycles traveled 100 miles during one day of the ROT they would emit approximately 11 tons of ozone-forming emissions and 45 tons of carbon monoxide. On the Saturday the event was held in 2003 an ozone monitor registered an exceedence of the Federal Ozone Standard. The total emissions from the motorcycles at the ROT were seen as contributing cause to this ozone exceedence by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
   If a future ROT or other high-emission event caused an ozone exceedence that contributed to our violating the Federal Ozone Standard we could face economic sanctions that could nullify any economic gain derived from the event.
   Vehicle emission testing will begin in September, 2005, in Travis and Williamson Counties. Please keep your vehicle well maintained to reduce emissions throughout the year to protect the community’s health.
Scott Johnson
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