To get the equivalent of a full night’s sleep these days, Theresa Stuart has to break her slumber into chunks throughout the night.
The 70-year-old resident of London, Ont.’s Orchard Park neighbourhood near Wonderland and Sarnia roads doesn’t suffer from insomnia. What is keeping her up — and is raising concerns with city hall — is nighttime noise from drivers who use streets like their own personal race track.
“It sounds like the Indianapolis 500,” Stuart told CBC News. “It’s particularly annoying because they have the loudest mufflers.”
Stuart, who uses a cane and is recovering from a back injury, says the noises are unbearable. Sometimes they come from custom cars; other times, the “crotch rocket” style racing bikes keep her up.
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“I don’t sleep,” she said. “When these cats are racing, I’m hearing it at one o’clock in the morning, two o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning. Some mornings at three o’clock, I say, ‘OK, you guys win.’ I’ll get up now, putter around, then once the regular traffic starts, I’ll sleep in the morning or the afternoon. My sleep is now truncated.”
Stuart isn’t alone in losing sleep over revving engines, screeching tires and ear-splitting muffler noises at night. Complaints have been popping up on social media all summer. Complaints have also landed in the email inboxes of city councillors.
In a Twitter post on Monday, Stuart’s neighbour, Carol Dyck, said street racing in London is “out of control,” particularly in the city’s northwest.
The street racing in northwest #ldnont is out of control right now; there is non-stop sounds of screeching tires. Hopefully nobody gets hurt and some of these cars get caught!
Last summer, Ward 7 Coun. and Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan posted about the issue on Facebook in response to complaints about street racing. Morgan’s ward is adjacent to Stuart, who lives in Ward 6.
At the time, Morgan said he’d raised the issue with the London Police Service, and was told the force had brought in expanded muffler enforcement training to all officers.
Morgan also shared the following stats about enforcement numbers that were provided to him by the police service.
- A two-week blitz in the fall of 2020 targeting loud vehicles resulted in the issuing of 535 loud vehicle/improper muffler-related charges.
- In the spring of 2021, police launched an education and enforcement campaign in response to racing and loud mufflers and issued more than 250 charges in 12 days.
In a text exchange with CBC News about the issue on Friday, Morgan said the number of complaints he’s received appears to be down this summer over last. Morgan also said noisy street racing is not a problem limited to London’s west and northwest neighbourhoods.
CBC News asked the police service to provide updated stats or comment about the issue of street racing in London. Spokesperson Sandasha Bough directed CBC to file an access to information request.
Police won’t chase racing bikes, councillor says
Coun. Steve Lehman, whose Ward 8 is just south of Morgan’s, has also raised the issue with London police.
“I hear racing on Oxford for sure,” said Lehman. He said police have stepped up enforcement efforts. Like Morgan, he says he received more complaints about racing from constituents last summer than this year. Lehman said police had told him that street-racing motorcycles can quickly reach speeds where it becomes unsafe for officers to chase them down.
“They’re here, and then they’re gone,” said Lehman of the noisy street bikes.
Lehman also witnessed a motorcycle collision last summer near the University gates on Richmond Street. That crash killed the 24-year-old rider. The rider was in a group of other riders when the crash happened, Lehman said.
“They’ll take off because police can’t have high-speed chases through the city, and [the motorcycle] riders know that. So that’s the challenge on the police front that I’ve heard personally.”
Lehman said he’s expecting a budget request from police for 52 more officers to come to council this fall. He plans to ask how much of that will go to traffic officers. Lehman said city councillors can’t direct police on their day-to-day enforcement operations.
Stuart hopes a solution can be found. She’s lived in her house since the mid 1980s and said the sounds of street racing have only become a problem in recent years.