Motorbikes, decibels and locals

Steve Mallett (left) and Julian Quinton representing Motorcycle Action Group at Strand Quay.

Steve Mallett, Motorcycle Action Group’s (MAG) south east representative contacted Rye News asking for a meeting at Strand Quay on Sunday last (20 September) at 10am. Steve has already been involved with Rye Town Council and others in a combined effort to improve dialogue between local residents and the biking fraternity to address the situation at Strand Quay which has been the subject of much recent and ongoing debate.

MAG is an organisation with 6,000 volunteers and four full time staff, formed over 40 years ago to represent and protect the interests of motorcyclists remaining faithful to its core principles of freedom of choice and self determination and with the mantra “education not legislation”.

A picture of calm at Strand Quay.

Representing Rye News, I met Steve and his colleague Julian Quinton (MAG deputy SE representative) as agreed and after a masked discussion I decided to stay with them for the morning to witness at first hand what was happening and to be able to report factual evidence for the record.

Julian came armed with a decibel meter, the aim, to record evidence of noise levels and to prove or disprove some of the theories or allegations which had been made. The official guidance on motorcycle decibel levels reads as follows:

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph. At a distance of 50 feet, the noise limit is 86 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 mph and 82 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 mph.

Between 9:45am and 10:15am, 76 motorcycles came along Strand Quay, of those 76, only 2 were at 82 decibels, the rest were below, all were in the legal limit. Of the cars that passed in the same period, one hit 89 decibels, another 84, both driven by “boy racers” but that’s an issue for another time.

The same exercise was carried out between 11am and 11:30am when 97 motorbikes were checked for decibel levels and 2 were between 82 and 84, the remainder below.

Whilst this was going on, Steve Mallett was talking to visiting bikers, trying to educate them as to the issues faced by local residents and the need to act responsibly if they are to retain the ability to continue to congregate at Strand Quay. As well as explaining the situation to them, he was also issuing leaflets (see photo) as a reminder that motorcyclists and the local community need to have mutual respect which can only be gained by dialogue and appropriate action to continue the long tradition of meeting in Rye.

This leaflet has been handed out to local businesses and visiting motorcyclists at Strand Quay.

It’s obvious when you stand and look at the motorcyclists at Strand Quay, the majority are made up of two distinct groups, the 50 somethings who mainly ride classics and tourers and the ‘weekend warriors’, the younger bikers who are more passionate about speed and the more expensive machines. From what I witnessed, the vast majority were playing by the rules and were just there for the day out, the law breakers were a minority looking for crowd reaction as they revved their bikes unnecessarily and had no regard for speed limits, local residents or the biking fraternity.

Some of our readers may have noticed a professional photographer set up in a lay by on one of the bends on the road running from Rye to Camber, photos are taken of the bikers as they pass, often at speed with their knees to the ground, encouraging bikers to speed to get a better action shot.

Speeding bikers coming to Rye along Military Road, Udimore Road, Rye Hill and the A259 are seemingly met with no opposition so they carry on doing the same, when they arrive at Strand Quay and park up they will spend money on food and drink and perhaps a souvenir small enough to carry on their bikes, but if they wanted to use the facilities at Strand Quay on Sunday they would have been disappointed as they were locked, even the disabled toilet was locked, no access, not even for RADAR key holders and the disabled.

The poster says it’s open, the catch on the door says it’s ‘vacant’ but the door was locked.

Policing speeding bikers and motorists is down to the authorities but with further communication the issues at Strand Quay can improve. One suggestion was to place police cardboard cut outs (like they have in supermarkets) inside buildings as a form of deterrent, not a bad idea especially as there are many empty windows available in Rye. Any improvement is dependent on action but this largely depends on the continued dialogue between MAG, Rye Town Council, the Environment Agency, local government and the police, not forgetting the locals who will be kept informed and up to speed, by Rye News.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Motorcycle Action Group .


  1. Interesting report from Nick Foreman, and good to see he has liased with the bikers and their representatives. Once again on a blank note,why are Rother district council not opening the strand quay toilets,as i have been informed all bexhill toilets are up and running,this area of Rye is one of the busiest in Rye,and its a disgrace they have remained closed,is there an agenda, are they going to close them for good,like the Rope Walk toilets, its time visitors and locals were given honest answers, because the silence of our local Rother district elected councillors is deafening, and nodoubt when the elections come around, they will nodoubt find their voices again.

  2. It’s not speed and noise on Strand Quay that upset many residents, but on the approaches to Rye. That decibel meter would be better used through Icklesham , Winchelsea Beach and Udimore, plus many more weekend racetracks.

    • @CathyH I agree, that is the issue for noise. Military Road, 19 and 20 September from 7.45am there were many noisy bikers coming into Rye and later in the day, many leaving. This is not an isolated problem and yes, car drivers are also speeding and noisy, but some of the bikers are really noisy and their numbers are greater than reported in this article.

  3. Motorcycle Action Group remind me a lot of FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), who promote the numerous benefits of smoking. So even along a stretch of road where it is near impossible to drive at speed, four motorbikes an hour are exceeding the noise limit, which is already set at a level above harmful noise.
    As another reader has pointed out, what about deploying that decibel meter at any of the approach roads to Rye, where most of those readings would be between 95 to 100 decibels – Julian Quinton, are you up for that? I was reminded of motorcyclists’ freedom of choice and self determination at quarter past midnight and 6am this morning. Thanks so much MAG, your freedom is so much more important than anyone else’s. But then again, you are for the most part male, white, middle aged, well educated, well paid – of course you are entitled to do whatever you want – please keep educating us! To your credit, at least you are prepared to engage, which is more than can be said of most ‘bikers’.
    On Tuesday I had an outdoor meeting with our new environment manager at RDC. On numerous occasions, the racket from passing motorbikes (they were invariably motorbikes) was so loud we had to speak up. Effectively increasing the risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2. This is what it has come to.
    Honestly, if I had my way, I would impose a total ban on motorbikes until such a time that collectively bikers learn to respect others. I don’t blame the police, they are totally overloaded and are not able to do anything. All bikers know this and happily abuse this. I keep on looking out for the motorbike that is not unreasonably noisy – let’s call it the Unicorn Motorbike – but I have yet to see and not hear it.
    Just for the record, I don’t remotely approve of ‘boy racers’ either, but as Nick says, that is another issue for another time.

    • It’s so easy to make informed-sounding statements that people will believe without fact-checking… we have had several years evidence of this…

      So, let’s just remind ourselves of the statements from the article which noise-tested passing bikes:

      “of those 76, only 2 were at 82 decibels, THE REST WERE ALL BELOW, ALL WERE IN THE LEGAL LIMIT… The same exercise was carried out between 11am and 11:30am when 97 motorbikes were checked for decibel levels and 2 were between 82 and 84, THE REMAINDER BELOW.”

      What’s more you claim that the noise limit is “already set at a level above harmful noise”.


      I do hope you play neither the piano (84 – 103dB) or violin (82 – 92dB).

      And how do you reach the conclusion that “deploying that decibel meter at any of the approach roads to Rye, where most of those readings would be between 95 to 100 decibels”?

      Did you not read the noise regulations? “A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph.” If virtually all the bikes are legal in a 30 limit, why do you speculate they’ll suddenly be way over the limit on a different road?

      You really can’t have looked very hard for your unicorn. But that’ll be your blinkered viewpoint.

    • There were actually 2 motorcycles measured in the hour that exceeded the db limit. Your comments suggest you have a closed mind to a preconceived opinion you hold, which you support by unfounded claims.
      Going forward, try to be objective when forming opinions, or is this beyond you?

    • Your comments about white privilege and banning motorbikes mark you out as on the fringe of sensible and constructive debate, which is a shame, because those comments completely negate any sensible point you were trying to make.

    • As a lifelong motorcyclist, I’m quite proud to state I’ve not owned an excessively loud motorcyle since the 1970’s.. One I bought recently was fitted with a loud exhaust, & I wouldn’t use it until this had been replaced with an original, factory spec one.. I’ve never understood the sense in fitting overly loud ‘silencers’, or of unnecessary revving engines, though there is a theory that loud pipes help others motorists become aware of the presence of bikes in their vicinity.
      Surely the simplest answer would be to ban the sale of loud exhausts, rather than tar us all with the same brush?

  4. Good to read this.
    Would be good to try and tackle people driving over 30 on Fishmarket Road and South Undercliffe. There is not even a sign to say 30. The police seem to wait on Winchelsea Road where no one crosses the road and the speed limit is about to change. Maybe the police should wait by the chair doctor?

  5. Its sad to see whatever Nick Forman does to highlight the problem of the bikers he and the bikers will be damned,even though its only a minority of bikers that are to blame, sadly it is the nimbys who stopped Rye having a bypass 40 years ago who are to blame., the a259 through Rye could have been detrunked,and 20 mph limits could have been put in place, i suggest to the perpetual moaners who are anti bikers,by yourself some ear plugs if your sleep is being deprived, because the problems of noise in this town is sadly here to stay, we had a choice all those years ago,but thanks to some who opposed the bypass,they now have to lay in there bed,and like it.

  6. Good article apart from your bit about the professional photographer. The way this is worded implies that the people doing it encourage us bikers to speed, whereas the opposite is true.
    I’ve met the guys who do this on many occasions and they’ve done charity shoots for us but never have they or do they encourage speeding or getting your knee down.
    Some good comments apart from the one person who, like the small minority of bikers who do ride like loons, give all the non-bikers on their a bad name.
    The comment about ‘all bikers’ know this and flaunt it. I’ve been biking for 30 odd years and never had a speeding ticket or points on my license and I keep my speed down in towns for my own safety because to be honest with you, in town a small minority of car drivers don’t pay attention. I also have one of those ‘Unicorn’ bikes as my exhaust system is standard and even when I open the throttle on a country road is well below the legal limit.

  7. Last Sunday 20th Sept 2020 I was driving my car up the hill towards (Hub on the Hill) Iden from Rye, 3 motor cycles performed an overtaking procedure on the hill exceeding the speed limit and therfore producing excess noise with the front biker performing a wheelie whilst going up the hill.
    It is not the roads on the Strand Key that suffer the noise and speed but all the approach roads into Rye with many bikers excecding the speed limit and performing dangerous overtaking of other road users. I have witnessed bikers who actually perform overtaking manouvers at road junctions plus those who overtake by crossing double white lines and other restrictive road markings.

  8. I would invite someone with a decibel meter to sit for an hour or two on Military Road on a pleasant weekend morning—but arrive early, as the incredibly loud cavalcade usually begins around 7 AM. It goes on all day, and well into the night, and one can hear the roar of no-doubt-illegal mufflers for miles across the marsh.

  9. Two half hour sessions of sound monitoring at Strand Quay is not good enough. Monitoring throughout Saturday and Sunday is required, then the couple of offenders will swell to dozens, maybe even hundreds.

  10. If there wasn’t a noise problem caused by motorbikes this article wouldn’t have been written! What I thought was going to be a reasonable account of the issue rather lost its impact as it’s no good measuring noise levels on Strand Quay (as many of your readers have pointed out).

  11. It’s appreciated that Steve and Julian are being proactive about this issue that’s affecting so many. But perhaps they could be even more productive by spending a dry weather weekend sitting close to the bridge on Rye Hill, near the entrance to Military Road, to understand what the rest of us have to deal with ?

  12. I agree with Dominic unless decibel readings are taken at regular intervals along such roads as Udimore Road and Military Road ( probably where the worst offences arise) then the whole exercise is a waste of time. These bikers require to be educated but I’m doubtful if they would ever take heed. They appear to be a law unto themselves. How about speed traps as for cars? Prosecution might help to mend there ways.

  13. New Road is an issue too, the temptation going over the bridge and looking all the way to the camber turning seems for, I would say living on new road, the majority of bikers to test their acceleration… and the screams of the engines can be heard all the way across the marsh. Whatever the legal decibel levels are, on a quiet Sunday morning, they do seem loud. As the bikes zoom, zoom and zoom past our house, the common mantra is ’30 miles an hour…’ usually followed by a sigh.

  14. As I see it, the motorbikes are lawfull, taxed and insured, therefore entitled to travel on public roads. The outcome is the fact they are fully entitled to use the public roads wherever they wish.

  15. Well what can I say. I had lived in Wish street for many years up until 2 weeks ago and was driven close to madness by the noise of bikers, especially at the weekend and early in the morning too. I was compelled to relocate, as one of your readers has continuously suggested if you can’t live with it. I now live in winchelsea beach in a pretty location well over a mile away from the A259. Sadly, I can report without a shadow of a doubt you can hear speeding motorbikes on a Sunday morning. Devastated, but I will live with it here. More has to be done!!

  16. Gosh Nick this article has certainly caused some comments!!!! Really pleased that the representatives of the MAG wanted to meet with you and have a discussion. Often in these situations communication is the key and to try and look rationally at opinions from both sides! I live in military road and yes on a Sunday I do hear motorbikes coming into town and yes some I feel are going too fast and you can hear them coming! However does it ruin my day? NO. Does it go on all day from 6 in the morning until late in the night? I really wouldn’t know as working full time I just love being at home at the weekend and in Rye, just getting on with having a lovely day so assuming not! I also like to see them meeting up at strand quay, chatting and and no doubt spending money too! I agree that all visitors coming to Rye and those living in Rye should be respectful to one another but I am afraid the society we live in today which to be honest we MUST ALL be responsible for isn’t sadly always like that! MAG please keep up the good work to get the important message across!

  17. How one must agree with john and Lisa’s comments,speeding motor bikes and noise issues is down to the invisible Rother Police to adress, no amount of moaning about noise and lack of sleep,will solve this ongoing problem, and until hopefully they will act,it will fall on deaf ears.

  18. Police cannot act on this, not effectively. They are so stretched as it is, they simply haven’t the personnel to spare.

    Speeding is the problem, in and around Rye. Its Motorcyclists and cars that speed. Especially around military road, and the road to Udimore (2089) And I will correct the article one thing….it isn’t just “boy racers”….there are plenty of reckless “girl racers” as well.

    But I think the reason other road users get most frustrated at Motorcyclists, and it is the few really, Isn’t so much the noise, but the reckless speeding and riding some do. The “packs” of sports bikes that weave in and around cars, sometimes at stupidly high speeds. They are the real danger. And no amount of meetings or decibel meters are going to stop these groups riding like lunatics. Only active speed traps would work, and that wont happen.

  19. Two massive blasts of noise way over the safe limit on average within 30 mins is still way too much. Yes it is only a few bikes which are above the limit but they are the ones which affect the residents of that area.

  20. And, several months later, there’s been little action taken and little change. Cavalcades of motorcycles roaring past since early this morning. If only the Sussex Police were to assign an officer with a speed camera and a decibel meter at this end of Military Road, as they have on New Road and Winchelsea Road…

    I am glad that these folks are having a nice day out, but this is our home. Show some respect. Don’t speed. Muffle your machines.

  21. Living on Udimore Rd, I sympathise with all the commentaries about noise, speed, recklessness etc. I would also agree that it’s not just bikes. ‘Spare Parts Corner’ near Cock Marling attests to this, and some of the driving on Udimore Rd beggars belief. (When I see dangerous driving, I report it to Operation Crackdown.) However, I do think the new road markings and restored rows of bollards are assisting to promote slightly more responsible driving, at the moment at least.
    Re motorbikes, I think the bottom line is, the legal decibel level needs to be reduced. It’s not really a matter of enforcement, the legal noise level is widely unacceptable in a rural environment.
    The only consolation I can ever offer my wife, who hates the bike noise, is that in coming years, they’ll all be electric!


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