Motor scooters can be a great alternative to a car. They’re typically less expensive, often get better gas mileage and normally require less space to park, according to Kelley Blue Book. But that doesn’t mean you can park a scooter anywhere. Here’s a look at the legal requirements, common etiquette and some tips to help you sort it out.
Know Scooter Street Parking Laws
Regulations will vary from state to state, and from city to city, so it’s important to understand the scooter parking laws in your neck of the woods. When street parking in Chicago, for instance, the city says you must park perpendicular to the curb. In California, you’re also required to have your wheel or fender touching the curb when you park.
You should also understand whether you’re required to display a city sticker or parking permit, whether you need to pay for a spot and, among other things, where you’re legally allowed to park. For example, most states and municipalities are aligned in that they “pretty consistently don’t allow for motorcycle or motor scooter parking on sidewalks,” says Mike Estey, a spokesperson for the International Parking Institute. But they also have unique exceptions. Estey says that, in Seattle, where he serves as parking program manager, multiple motorcycles and scooters are allowed to occupy a single paid space, “as long as they all pay.”
Knowing policies is also important when you’re parking in a retail or paid lot or a parking garage. Many times, you’ll find that these facilities have specific spots set aside for motorcycles or scooters. There may be a financial benefit in using such spaces, according to Shawn McCormick, director of parking enforcement for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
“Often, a reduced rate is offered to motorcycles and scooters if the lot has designated spaces,” McCormick says. If there aren’t any such spots, you can probably expect to pay the same fee as a passenger car, McCormick says, because you’d be taking up “the same real estate.”
Either way, one area that’s always off limits to scooters is an “access” aisle, which is meant to stay clear to accommodate a wheelchair or otherwise help those with mobility issues, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). These spots are often designated with stripes or with a sign at ground level, the DOJ says.
Practice Parking Etiquette
Beyond the legal requirements, it can also be helpful to brush up on scooter parking etiquette. One common issue crops up when a scooter parks at the top of a full-sized spot, making it look empty to other drivers attempting to park their vehicles.
To prevent that from happening, the National Motorists Association says that, rather than pull all the way forward, you should align the back wheel of your scooter with the back bumpers of surrounding cars. This will help your scooter be more visible to other drivers.
And while it’s almost always legal to park in a car-sized spot, it may be better manners to look for a designated scooter space first. This may help keep options open for cars, which have less flexibility on where they can park.
If you do end up in a full-sized spot, though, you may want to follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s suggestion to park toward one side of the space, to leave room for another bike (unless, of course, multiple vehicles are prohibited there).
However you ride, it makes good sense to be informed, think about your potential impact on other drivers and set a goal of riding (and parking) safely.
Originally published on July 14, 2015.
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