Let bikers be … quieter!

Bikers en masse in Rye before the virus arrived

Following the Environment Agency’s request for a Rye Town Council view on whether “bikers” should be stopped from parking on the agency’s land at Strand Quay, the council decided on Monday that the bikers should be “let be” – but the council needed to find ways to cut down the noise and speeding of some bikers so they were a bit quieter.

Stephen Mallett, SE rep of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), sat in on the Zoom debate to put the bikers’ point of view, but also to see how they could help. He pointed out however that “I can’t police this on your behalf, but we can work with you” and Councillors Chris Hoggart and Rebekah Gilbert had already been working on getting some messages across in the “biker media”.

However the police also needed to help, and a recent police speeding clampdown near Rye seemed to possibly have had some effect in recent weeks – thought it was mainly car drivers who were caught. But very early morning and very late evening noisy bikers were mentioned as major offenders, both in Rye and in surrounding villages.

The bikers’ representative said the Strand Quay parking space was very popular, particularly this year when there was so much overcrowding because many people had to holiday at home – and the noise problem could go away if there was more enforcement. But they might be able to help with leaflets or posters on the lines of “Behave – or lose it”.

Councillor Ian Potter said there were two distinct issues to consider – the anti-social minority, and the Strand Quay parking – which was better than other options, and the bikers may simply park elsewhere if it was closed off.

Councillor Cheryl Creaser said there were bikers groups who did lots of work with kids and hospitals, but there was a problem minority whose exhausts shook her house on the A259 at eleven o’clock at night.

Councillor Shaun Rogers said the council should ask the bikers to police themselves more as the police cannot be everywhere, but the police should be asked to do more on weekend mornings and late nights. However he then had to vanish as he was on call as a fireman, and a fire had been reported.

Councillor Rebekah Gilbert said shutting the parking on Strand Quay would be cutting off our nose to spite our face as the space would also be lost to families, dog-walkers and other pedestrians too.

Councillor David Ampthill said it was the noisiest summer he could remember for 20 years and the key was the police. Councillor Dave Bookless, a past biker himself, said noise was a problem, but there had been bikers there for years – and he felt they should be kept where they were – and they had become an attraction in themselves and their bikes.

Councillor Jo Kirkham said she had often met bikers who had come back in cars with their families to see the town and Councillor Chris Hoggart added that the Environment Agency should allow the parking to continue. Councillor Andi Rivett said he thought the agency was concerned about speeding and noise, but these were policing matters, and the agency were not really that eager to close off the Quay.

Councillor John Breeds (senior) said he did not object to the bikers, but his brother had been driven out of town by them. “For him” he said ” the bikers were the final straw”.

Councillor Andy Stuart said “we need to be positive and get stuff out to the biker magazines saying we are open for business – but a small minority are spoiling it”.

Councillor Ian Potter moved that the agency be told that the council did not want the parking to stop, but they should seek help from MAG to get their concerns across and it was agreed with no votes against – and the MAG representative added “we can say that the council has bent over backwards and perhaps they’ll respond”.

Image Credits: John Minter .


  1. The terrible noise of “the minority” will not stop unless there is meaningful and effective enforcement and suitable penalties. Sussex Police have the time and resources to enforce speed limits so why not have a crack at some noise limits as well this coming weekend. In fact they could kill two birds with one stone! Perhaps this is something that our distinguished Police and Crime Commissioner could get stuck into. After all we deserve something for our £85k per annum!

  2. This is called progress and well done to those who have engaged in an official capacity with the problem and representatives of the bikers.
    I am certain all the issues raised in 3 articles in Rye News recently will largely be addressed.
    It’s been a long time coming but at least something sensible is being done to curb the noise pollution from bikers whether they are in the minority or not.
    Dominic Manning made some interesting points re. the environment, in the article Agency Wants Town’s Opinions.


  3. It was good news for the bikers visiting our town that the council have unanimously agreed to allow them to park on the strand quay, maybe liaising with the bikers,and a couple of signs at strand quay, like respect Rye, or lose your privilege, may do the trick, the main problem this town is we have been abandoned by Rother Police, and they should be checking noise and speed,especially at weekends, despite us having a huge underused,understaffed police station,at huge costs to the ratepayers.All of us that wish to live in Rye unfortunately have to grin and bear it, with 5 roads converging on our town,noise will always be with us, making excuses for being woke up early in the morning, and late at night,is sadly the price most residents have to endure,where ever they live, as for getting on your push bike from west malling,or margate, i do wonder what planet some people live on.

  4. I don’t agree I live on the smallhythe Road tenterden for 27 years and the bikers are an absolute pain they give no consideration for anyone else. If we hear of an accident a motorbike is always involved.
    Why do they have to congregate at the Quay, I have friends in Rye who also agree that they are a nuisance. During lockdown when travelling to exercise was lifted to more miles they were at the Quay and not one of them adhered to the 2 metre distancing. We are a nation of softies and agendas, yes they have been down here for years and they have always been a problem I find it amazing to see they are 50 + in years and quite frankly should know how to behave.!! They treat the route from Tenterden to Rye then along the military canal to Appledore as a racetrack.
    Shut the gate at the Rye Quay and let them go elsewhere and perhaps we can save these beautiful villages from being ruined.

  5. A lot of noise comes from 50-125cc riders on L plates that fit stupidly loud pipes, tho you do get the minority of riders on bigger bikes that are loud also but if you are truly honest how many times did you hear that bike and made you look again before pulling out, turning into that junction or even opening your car door??

    With the rolling out of noise cameras across Europe it’s only a matter of time till they are here, but that will also affect car drivers also

    But yes I can still hear you going but they speed through the town ….. well sorry to burst you bubble so do cars the and lorries but it’s the bikes you notice first because of a aftermarket exhaust

    The only real solution is more policing to tackle all road users not just the bikes there is good and bad but no one is squeaky clean and never breaks the rules

  6. The police don’t need noise meters, just a pair of eyes to check that a motorcycle’s mufflers are stamped with the correct noise approval numbers. If they are and they have not been tampered with, Rye residents can sleep easy without fear of their ears being assaulted ever again. The raucous din will have gone. The UK’s noise regulations are so stringent that manufacturers have even had to develop quieter chains.

    The problem is that many bikers replace the original noise-approved ‘mufflers’ with aftermarket mufflers designed to increase noise, power and speed. Strictly speaking, this is illegal but there are many brand names to choose from. One of the most popular is Akrapovic who happen to produce arguably the loudest of any aftermarket exhaust systems.

  7. Military Road has been used by some bikers as a race track for many years. I try to avoid cycling along Military Road for my cycle training outings on a Sunday due to the dangerous high speeds of these bikers along this stretch. Sunday appears to be their favourite day for this and I have seen a few crashed bikes cycling by. Surely for one day a week on a Sunday speed traps could be instituted in Military Road.

  8. Are you sure it’s motorcycles making the noise? I was in a cafe recently when a young woman commented about a noisy motorbike to her children, they were surprised when I pointed out that there were no bikes in sight and the culprit was in fact a small hatchback car. Assumptions are dangerous things!

  9. Why was it relevant for Councillor Cheryl Creaser to say that some bikers work with kids and hospitals … What does that have to do with breaking the speed limit and noise pollution ? All manner of people do wonderful charity work with no recognition, and they don’t inflict their lifestyle on others. This whole issue isn’t about how saintly people are in their spare time. It’s about people respecting the environment and the quality of life and safety of others. As you enter Rye, and many surrounding villages and market towns, you are in a 30mph zone. Surely that’s what all of us want bikers and cars to abide by ? Maybe if all bikers abided by that law we would not notice their excessively noisy exhausts so much.

    Further, most bikers know the police will not do anything. It’s far easier for the police to stop a car than get into a chase with a motorbike. I often drive to London and see bikers breaking the law, in plain view of the police, and they do nothing. It’s too much hassle and could cause accidents. Certainly it’s well known in London that the police rarely give chase with people on motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles.

    This whole subject has never been about being anti-bikers. It’s about asking people to abide by the law and respect others. If those simple steps were taken we could happily live in harmony and there would be no need for this discussion. And if this topic could be shared within the biker community so they all knew how people were feeling, that would be a very good start.

  10. The problem seems to be centred around drivers of vehicles (motorcycles &/or cars) who break the law by either speeding and/or causing noise pollution. Closing any parking sites where bikers congregate such as on Strand Quay, only results in the loss of valuable trade for local businesses, and moves the parking to an alternative (possibly less safe and convenient) site. Thankfully common sense has prevailed (this time), by keeping Strand Quay open for all to use. Most of the bikers are neither breaking the law nor causing any problems at all, so discriminating against such groups of valued visitors is not only completely inappropriate but also will not solve the issues. Therefore siting speed &/or noise detection cameras (if there is such equipment lets use it) at appropriate sites around town, or on favoured ‘race tracks’ would seem a logical solution. Whilst there would obviously be a cost to place and maintain such equipment, surely fines brought in from offending drivers, plus savings made by not requiring a police presence, would definitely help to offset costs (in addition to the relief provided for affected residents). Unfortunately, my guess is that the financial commitment required (by any authorities responsible) to administer any kind of solution at all, will mean that nothing is ever done to actually solve the problem. Other than the continued long-winded ‘reviews and meetings’, which pertain to be addressing issues, but actually amount to nothing ever being accomplished (the issues in Camber with summer visitors is a perfect illustration of this!).


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