In California, one of the most frequently cited benefits of driving a scooter, other than fuel savings, is the ease of parking. They take up little space on the street and sometimes fit out of the way on sidewalks, in alleyways, or crosshatched areas alongside parking spaces. Many parking garages offer discounts or free parking to motorcycles and scooters. However, as a new driver, many people find themselves unsure which options are fully legal and where they should park if all designated motorcycle spots are full.
Street Parking: This is the only method of parking the CA DMV Motorcycle Handbook comments on: “Park at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees to the curb with a wheel or fender touching the curb.” It is important to note that you are not supposed to park parallel to the curb, likely because you would consume more street space than is necessary. You can legally park facing either in or out, but you will have an easier time when you depart if your scooter is pointed in the direction you will drive next. Backing your scooter away from a curb, into traffic, at a slightly uphill angle is not the safest way to start a ride. If you park with your rear tire touching the curb, you will only need to pull forward an inch or two before being able to scan traffic with full visibility.
Metered Parking: According to multiple scooter and motorcycle forums, metered areas are one of the riskiest places to park your bike. Some towns allow two bikes to share one space and split the meter fee while others insist on collecting coins for literally every vehicle and prefer the bikes to each monopolize a space. Parking in between two cars is even riskier because you don’t know if your right to park free is tied to a single space, both meters, or merely a figment of your imagination. For accurate information about your area, call your local parking enforcement office, the non-emergency police line, ask your friends about their experiences, or visit an online forum to start a discussion or see if the unwritten rules of your area have been discussed previously.
Paid Parking Lots: Many city parking lots and paid parking structures offer free or reduced cost passes to motorcycles and scooters in a clearly delineated area. The steady increase in popularity of two-wheeled transportation means that sometimes these designated areas are full. Some lots might allow you to take over a vehicle parking space under those conditions, but most will expect you to pay the price an automobile would incur whether you keep the space to yourself or share it with other bikers. A better option, acceptable in most lots, is to park in the cross-hatched areas at the end of each row. Be sure to allow plenty of space for car doors to swing open and to stay away from handicap zones. If you don’t see any other bikes parked in similar locations, you may want to ask the attendant if its acceptable before you leave the structure.
Open Commercial Lots: The rules about who can park where in a commercial lot are defined by the business(es) to which it is attached. Overcrowded lots may prefer that motorcycles and scooters park near the bicycles, nestled up against their building, or in the hatched areas at the end of each parking row. Some businesses may be worried about liability repercussions and insist that all vehicles park in designated parking spaces. Follow the lead of your fellow motorcyclists and scooterists, ask a parking lot attendant or shopping cart clerk the location’s etiquette, or play it safe by taking up a parking space even though it might make you feel a bit selfish.
- Residential Sidewalks: Many people think you can do whatever you want on the sidewalk so long as the property owner doesn’t mind, however the truth is more complicated. Sidewalks are a public easement area and are supposed to remain free of obstacles. Most cities won’t give you a ticket for bending this rule, but they also refrain from officially permitting the practice. Furthermore, a fine isn’t the only risk of sidewalk parking. If you are too close to the street, a car door could swing into and knock over your scooter. Or, similar damage could occur due to the grabby attention of inebriated or irrationally angry strangers walking by.