Noisy, no respect, no, no, no

Strand Quay returns to normal and traffic queues vanish as traffic lights depart from the Kettle O' Fish roundabout

On Sunday, May 17  I realised just how quiet the last few weeks had been as the bikers took the prime minister’s ‘Stay Alert’ as a call for freedom to do as they wish and go back to normal.

From 7:30am onward the deafening noise of bikers revving up and down the A259 was not what people on Strand Quay hoped for, or the town for that matter, as no cafes/restaurants, nor toilets were supposed to be open.

Eventually there were about 60 bikes on Strand Quay and some overflow parked on the pavement outside the heritage centre. As I took the picture below I was seconds too late to click on a guy peeing in the corner of two houses opposite Strand Court.

Overflow of bikes outside the Heritage Centre

In some way it was a sad day in terms of people taking responsibility for themselves (there was not much distancing between the bikers) or others. Some of the individuals went into a cafe that was open, probably for “take away”, and on Saturday, May 16 there was a long queue outside the Kettle o’Fish. We can accuse the government having made some wrong choices and possibly this one, of stopping lockdown too early because of the economy, may be another.

However, in the end we all have to take personal responsibility and use common sense, especially if one goes outside one’s own area. Unfortunately ‘Staying Alert’ does not seem to work. Can the police do more? Not really. They had to be along all the East Sussex sea front and were seen in Camber and at Strand Quay, but to no avail.

From news reports we know that Hastings beach was more or less respected, not so Camber apparently where all the car parks were full. But my question concerning our local town is where are the Rye town councillors? Have they met at all on Zoom, to look at the problem which will become worse as the weather gets better?

Conditions far from ideal for refugees

Our local MP, Sally Ann Hart, has written to the government, being concerned about the refugees arriving at our coast and maybe having the virus. That may be so, but hundreds of people descending in the next few days/weeks (people are still furloughed so free to travel and relax) to the south coast surely is more dangerous in the scheme of things.

It would be good if we heard from Sally Ann Hart, with some clarification of what the government’s plans are during lock down and the plan for ‘Stay Alert’.

The Hastings/Rye Observer (May 15) reports that in fact East Sussex County Council held their first virtual full meeting on May 12, to discuss the development of an economic recovery plan for East Sussex after the Covid-19 lockdown ends. And it is now May 17, and have we heard anything? What will be the help, who can people or businesses contact?

We need to hear from Rother District Council, East Sussex County Council and Rye Town Council,  and the latter don’t need to all sit in one room. And we, the locals, continue to isolate – fearful of visitors with no masks.

[Editor’s note : The Times reported this week that the Department of Transport is considering new powers to curb illegal exhausts on motorbikes making excessive noise]

No more comments on this original story will be published. The topic will feature again in Rye News and you are welcome to comment then.


Image Credits: Heidi Foster .


  1. We have to get used to the fact that we live in a place that people of all sorts like to visit. This isn’t going to change except to say that more will visit in future as more take UK “staycations”. It is the job of local councils to accommodate this for the benefit of locals and visitors alike, including decent toilet facilities.

  2. Most motorcyclists, and I’m one, are well behaved and respectful to other people. Unfortunately, there will always be a few who ruin it for everyone and bring motorcycling into disrepute. It really annoys me when they do this. Maybe some form of signage at Stand Quay to remind them of their social responsibilities might help.

    • Thank you Shaun and you are right, most do behave and personally I like looking at the bikes in the past not sure we are quite ready for back to normal here

    • Are they? Doesn’t seem like when I’m trying to get some peace and quiet on the weekend, exceeding the speed limit, making a racket with illegal sports exhausts, revving up bikes on the Strand?
      I was walking along beside the Military Canal last weekend trying to enjoy a peaceful walk but as the Military Road is a favourite for bikers, absolutely no chance. Most of them appearing to do in excess of 100 mph and disturbing the tranquillity of our countryside.

      I’m sure the M20 would be far more suitable but presumably there’s speed cameras or a Police presence.

      • some people are just anti bike. I have a loud race exhaust on my bike because most car drivers are in their own little bubble and just dont look for bikes, at least they can hear me coming, if they are blind and deaf they shouldn’t be driving. Dont see anyone complaining about boy racers with dustbin exhausts on their cars.

        • Don’t kid yourself. A loud exhaust doesn’t alert drivers to the presence of a motorbike, until that bike has gone past them. The sound is all behind. What it does do is to disturb anyone living on line of route (or in a my case a few hundred yards off the line of route). This isn’t anti bike – it’s an objection to the antisocial nature of bikes – and any other vehicle – that generate excessive noise unnecessarily.

          • Hi John,
            As a biker, keen and passionate, I have to agree with your comments.
            I loath bikers with loud exhausts because I too spend time at home or elsewhere where I do not need to be aware of some inconsiderate idiot half a mile away winding up his engine. It might be ‘his’ enjoyment but it darn well affects everyone within a mile radius.

            Now the warmer weather is here, when driving my car, window down, my ears are blown off by the noise of the exhausts as I am over taken, the exhaust perhaps 5 feet from my ear, under load and revving through the gears.

            Come on bikers, your not always on your bike so you do know what its like when other bikers have noisy exhausts. The road is not a race track, and there is no justification for having anything but the stock exhaust on your ROAD BIKE. Same goes for cars.

          • I’m not anti-bikers at all. But I am anti the excessive noise and the breaking of the speed limit, in particular around Military Road. Since when was it considerate to turn Rye, Rye Hill and Military Road into Brands Hatch every Sunday ?

      • That’s a shame I wonder if it’s time for the bikers to find somewhere else to spend their hard earned cash then. I wonder what the commerce and local business would say if the bikes didn’t bother stopping in Rye!!

        • I don’t see the bikers using anything but the chippy or the cafe on the roundabout. Perhaps tourists coming to the countryside and our medieval town may be put off by the continual racket

  3. If folk are determined to visit tourist areas, beaches etc – which they know are likely to be busy – they will (and can!). Who has the power and resources to stop them – particularly when there are high numbers involved? Thanks to defective legislation even the Police in England do not have the power to enforce 2m distancing. Rother closed the toilets to deter visitors (but has now opened the disabled toilets). One of our District Councillors is seeking to establish when the remainder might be re-opened.

    • Hello Richard, I don’t think locals who have problems with the bikers noise (me included living right opposite the Quay) have an issue with visitors, the shops need them and we know that. We who live here have the choice to stay away from the busy historic parts in Rye.
      However, we cannot get away from the noise many (not all) bikers seem to produce going through the town and all the streets coming into the town. And I don’t buy they have to be noisy to make the car driver aware.
      It is unsocial behaviour and starts on Saturday now, then more on Sunday and last Monday it was unbearably constant.
      I have seen a response from Sally Ann Heart to a letter written by a local person living on the Quay.
      It was the usual, she was looking into it, more police was around in Rye etc. Yes I have seen police passing and talking to them but that does not help.

      Could the Rye Town Council have a meeting with the environment agency who own the Quay and find a solution. It could be a lovely area for people to sit and perhaps have a little round about for children to play on.
      Another solution, get the environment agency to make them pay like in the High Street but the money would come to Rye to set up a youth club or something useful for the young.

      Do I expect anything positive to happen, probably not but it would really be nice to see our local council work for the town and its inhabitants.

      • The original article may be nearly a year old but the fact it’s still being commented on now illustrates precisely how little has been done. You asked “where are the Rye town councillors?” One might also ask “where are our District and County councillors?”. They’ve been elected to represents the people of Rye and would have considerably more influence than Rye town councillors. Likewise for the elected Police and Crime Commissioner.

        If there’s one thing local people can do to make things better, that is to get out and vote today. The polls are open and your vote matters.

  4. Re. The editors note about the DoT considering, I wish they would stop considering and actually do something. As long as motorbikes gather at Strand Quay, there is going to be a noise, and lots of it. If the majority of motorcyclists are law abiding, then let them report the alleged minority.

  5. What I struggle with, as a resident on New Road, are bikers that come over the bridge and can see all the way to the Camber turning and accelerate from the bridge weaving in and out of traffic, some cars do it too. Don’t get me started on the pulling out of our drive looking at the traffic I’m pulling into and a bike is racing down the road in the process of overtaking on my side… or I’m pulling into my drive after coming over the bridge and someone is overtaking as I start to pull in because 30 mile an hour is to slow…
    The only way this will be dealt with is when a pedestrian is killed. Rother basically told us this when a New Road ‘can we sort the traffic out before a kid is killed trying to cross the road to get to school’ committee was set up.
    I quite like the bikers, it is a quirk of Rye and generally they are very courteous, it is sad to tar them all with the same brush… as with everything the few spoil it for the many, a better police presence with speed guns would be nice as the bikes come from camber into the 30 zone positioned at the school, or the other way just before they leave the 30 zone, preferably on a Sunday morning when the road is clearer and the temptation to ‘open up’ seems to great. Rother needs to invest more in Rye as a tourist place that includes provision for the bikers, even if it were just a few signs, adequate loos, and bins to start with, they would probably appreciate a few more benches too.

  6. Phil as you say most bikers are ok and I like viewing the beauties but they dont need to be without silencers and could respect speed coming into a town

    Yes we need more resources from Rother to make it a positive experience for both bikers and locals. I still think we are not ready since lockdown has opened.

  7. They would not be complaining had the cafés been open, I know for sure a lot of the revenue must come from the bikers that park in the loosely called ‘bikers park’ Who usually stop for a breakfast, coffee perhaps an ice cream and sometimes more coffee.
    Yes sometimes the exhausts can be loud, that’s because loud pipes save lives!
    because you can hear them.

  8. It’s highly unlikely bikes don’t have silencers, but some motorcyclists fit after market exhausts/silencers (as indeed do some car owners). Many of these non-standard exhausts are not road legal. If the Police did the odd spot check and issued a few fines to the rule breakers then I’m sure the message would soon get around the biking community.

    With regards to beaches, the scientific advisors have said numerous times that the chances of catching COVID 19 outdoors is remote. The trouble is, and it’s quite understandable, that summer is here and people’s steadfastness is starting to dilute. If you are trapped in a flat on a hot day with bored kids what do you do? There will never be a right time, especially as there may be no cure for COVID, so let people go to the beach. I’m sure the majority who want to stay safe with practise social distancing.

  9. Good to have the silencers explained Shaun.

    I dont go to the beach and I take my own council what is best but I do understand the fear of the camber locals who in fact did take quite a lot of pictures of not distancing.
    I live in a flat so know what it is like but I still make sure that I dont endanger myself or others.
    You are right though it is less dangerous in the outside depending on the wind and not distancing.

  10. I’m a born Ryer and 79 but live on Folkestone now and ride a 1958 bike, I love to ride to Rye I don’t speed and make a noise. I hope I don’t get tarred with the same brush. Back in the 50s I had bikes when I lived there I probably made a lot of noise.

    • Dear Mick, no I dont paint everyone with same brush as I am very aware of the pitfalls of generalising in any statement.
      And I think I mentioned that it is the few who do the revving coming in or out.
      What my point was in principle I guess that Rye was and still is not ready for mass visitors though in the past we relied upon it. The council needs to put a plan together re resources like open toilets with cleaners daily and perhaps deal with the noise.
      Many of us in Rye have enjoyed the bikers and if honest I would love to be a passenger but just now we are not quite ready

  11. Youve turned a valid point about overcrowding areas with people into an attack on bikers which is unfair. I dont know how you can compare bikers to refugees so I don’t know why you mentioned it. All they are, are refugees from France or are you saying France isnt a safe country to be in. These illegal invaders, 90% men, at a time of national lockdown are being escorted to Britain by a French gunboat. Now that is a crime.They can bring disease and we have no knowledge of crimes they may have committed in their countries of origin. ISIS once admitted that this is how they get their “soldiers”into Britain. This is the real issue, not bikers gathering although I admit the amount was far too many. But after 8 weeks of lockdown and eager to get out I imagine they all unfortunately had the same idea of a destination to ride to. In hindsight they should have seen the amount of bikers already there and rode on to a less crowded destination. But as someone rightly mentioned , you will soon be welcoming the money they usually spend in your local economy once this is over.

  12. The Police have not had sufficient tools or guidance from Government on enforcing unnecessary travel and in particular, social distancing. The Home Secretary totally undermined the Police once she stopped roadside checks. Other counties have been far more robust and in some, you need to provide proof of travel, what time you left home etc. We now see the crazy English being turned back at the Welsh and Scottish Borders. We should all take responsibility but we know 10 pc of the population won’t. Thats where robust enforcement to support the majority should come in

  13. David, I am not quite sure where you got this from that I compare bikers with refugees and I am not going to comment on the rest of your thoughts which dont hang together for me. I actually work for a refugee project and
    Re the bikers we have always in the past welcomed them but right now we need different ways of dealing with any kind of previous norm

  14. A disappointing read to be honest. The author/editor is clearly anti-bike, so thanks for the bike propaganda. This isn’t great – I saw it first hand and I wasn’t going to join the groups there in Rye. I wish they hadn’t gathered, and they shouldn’t have done like this. But to be clear, this is a minority of bikers, not the majority who travel to Rye in the summer months and help the failing seaside economy. Maybe people should be grateful for visitors in towns like these – just perhaps not during COVID.

    • Not factual at all. It’s not a minority of bikers, it’s a large amount. Spend one Sunday around Military Road and do a count. You’ll get into high double figures, maybe triple figures. And just because someone complains about motorbike noise do not presume that means they are anti-bikes. Motorbikes, and often the people who ride them, can be great people. But small tranquil country towns and villages were not built to have the harmony ruined by the noise of speeding motorbikes. And as for helping a failing seaside economy, I doubt bikers on a Sunday eating fish & chips will be creating community wealth. But certainly a good start would be charging bikers for parking in Rye. If cars have to pay to park, why are motorbikes let off the hook ?

  15. This appears to be a very one sided peice of journalism, branding bikers as all being irresponsible. Unfortunately the blame lies with Rye. Word will spread that the cafés, chip shop and ice cream parlour or open, this is a virtual invitation for bikers. What happens when one rye resident with a skewed perspective on bikers, and access to a charitable online paper, writes an article? It gets broadcast across multiple platforms, yes your small paper gets increased foot fall, but you’ve just wrote the advertisement ‘Bikers Rye is open for business’. BTW Im a biker if you hadn’t guessed, 160 miles away, i haven’t been going out on my bike for pleasure rides because everything is shut. Maybe Rye should suit, you may have bikers but you love the revenue we generate. See you soon Rye..

  16. There are three problems regarding bikers.

    1. An apparent disregard for social distancing measures.
    2. Speeding.
    3. Noise from illegal racing exhaust pipes.

    Re social distancing, it’s a huge problem about which it seems little can be done since the instruction was changed from “stay at home” to “stay alert”. Those choosing to ignore the 2m rule, even outdoors, are simply selfish and are putting the “at risk” at even greater risk. Lovely for them to be able to go out and enjoy life but it will probably mean those categorised as highly vulnerable will have to spend even longer cooped up beyond the current (loosely proposed) mid-June date.

    Re speeding – while the vast majority of bikers obey the rules, many do not, especially on open roads between villages. The police are overstretched as it is, so it seems little can be done on this front which is very frustrating.

    Re noise – this one is easy and as Shaun previously pointed out, “Many of these non-standard exhausts are not road legal. If the Police did the odd spot check and issued a few fines to the rule breakers then I’m sure the message would soon get around the biking community”. This would be SO easy to do at The Strand – could someone not suggest this to the local constabulary?!

    The noise, combined with the speeding, are my biggest bugbears. Some table thumping with the authorities is called for!

    As with so many things in life, it is so often the minority that spoil it for the majority but Rye seems to be a bit of a magnet for that minority!

  17. On a more positive note, wanted to share this initiative that I am a part of should it be of any use to anyone locally.

    We are a network of bikers across the UK providing a free courier service to help organisations and individuals responding to the Covid-19 situation. It gives us something to do when we are not riding to beauty spots to rev our engines whilst not maintaining appropriate social distancing.

    If this is of any use to something that you are doing, then have a look through the website and contact the team.

  18. It isn’t just motorcycles that have incredibly noisy exhausts there are plenty of cars too. It is very annoying to hear either mode of transport racing through our village, Fairlight, & proceeding up Battery Hill at well past the speed limit but our police force is too stretched & these selfish careless idiots continue on in their race between Rye & Hastings unabated. Most times I can hear them approaching from Winchelsea, a new law will be most welcome but I doubt the current police force will have the manpower to enforce it !
    P.S. As I type this another noisy bike rushes through …

  19. With fewer lorries and cars on the roads, are we more aware of the motor bike noise? Icklesham suffers too as the bikes race to Rye. If the exhausts are illegal, how can anyone buy them? Stop the sales. And it is such a shame that motorbike riders cannot read, or understand that 30 does mean THEM.

  20. I do agree with Shaun that the occasional spot check on bikes at Strand Quay would probably sort the problem of the FEW selfish noisy bikers. I have NO PROBLEM with bikers as such, but I seriously dislike the minority who seem to enjoy upsetting people and spoiling the peace of a beautiful day.

  21. Having visited Rye recently to visit family on Fishmarket Road – it was a Sunday – I was appalled by the amount of noise pollution created by bikers outside the garage/shop situated there. I watched as seven bikers sat on the forecourt of said garage revving their machines for no apparent reason other than to show how much noise they could make and try to impress passers by. Pathetic really. Once these had moved on more took their place and it was like this throughout the day.
    According to our relatives who live here this is a common occurrence on all weekends throughout the spring and summer – not when it rains though as it appears these are fair-weather bikers who wouldn’t dream of letting their bikes get wet. Isn’t it time the council did something about this? Our elderly relatives are getting no peace.

  22. Stephen, I live opposite bikers ‘paradise’ strand quay and today Monday was particularly bad in terms of noise. It has been a long standing debate. Many bikers are considerate many are not but rye is a destination for them. The only way to stop it on strand quay is talking to the environment agency who own the plot on strand quay. But the bikes might just chose another site. Heidi Foster

  23. First and foremost, for those commentators suggesting that the bikers coming to Rye are the majority of motorcyclists, then you clearly need to get out more. There are currently over 1.5 million registered motorcycles in the UK. And I guarantee that no more than 0.006% are travelling down to your precious coast every weekend.

    Secondly, there are far too many comments here discussing excessive exhaust sound with clearly no understanding of the legalities of noise limits or restrictions. I personally have a road legal exhaust that will pass a noise level test, yet if I were to rev up my engine enough, it would be loud and annoying. Now, if I were to be amongst 10 other bikers, all with equally legal exhausts who happened to rev up their engines at the same time, the noise would be incredibly loud and very annoying.

    Therefore, police spot checks are just a silly idea. If you believe spending police resource and tax payer money on checking motorcycle exhausts, again, you need to get out more.

    The legal noise limit for a road worthy exhaust is around 75db. Now, most bikers do not replace the entire exhaust system, they tend to replace the end can / silencer which increases the sound. Typically to around 90db. That’s a difference of 15db.

    Here are some sounds at around 15db: breathing (10db), whispering (15db), rustling leaves (20db).

    The problem is quite clearly not noise from one single motorcycle. The issue most of you seem to have is the fact that motorcyclists are congregating and enjoying your lovely town in groups of more than 2. Therefore, the point here should be, stop people from coming to Rye. That would probably solve your problem.

    However, it wouldn’t would it? A lack of investment, employment and appalling transport links are putting the UK’s coastal towns at risk. Including Rye. Your town literally relies on tourism to keep its economy afloat. So, that’s not an option.

    How about this crazy idea. Perhaps you could move. Yes, move away from the one area in the entire county where bikers congregate on weekends. I personally live in an area where no motorcycle congregation occurs, and guess what, I have no complaints.

    Or, failing that… Get out more.

  24. Incorrect understanding of noise and the decibel scale! It’s a logarithmic scale and each 10db increase roughly equates to a doubling of the noise level. 90db is roughly twice as loud as 80db.
    A whisper might be about 10db but that’s not, repeat not, the incremental increase in noise from 70 to 80 or 80 to 90 etc.
    Lots of motorcyclists are very considerate and very welcome.
    A few bikers are idiots and create unnecessary noise.


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