Did you know that over 8.5 million motorcycles are registered in the US today? This is according to a 2021 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report.
So, seeing the numbers, one can only imagine parking spaces are crucial. It’s a good thing that motorcycles are pretty compact, and it’s easy to find space to park them.
But should you consider parking one on the sidewalk? In short, the answer is no. Motorcyclists have to follow the same parking rules as any other motor vehicle. So this means no parking on sidewalks or striped areas. Or you face getting a parking ticket.
Why you can’t park motorcycles on the sidewalk
It can seem convenient to park on the public sidewalk if you think you won’t be gone for long. And often, motorcyclists can get away with sidewalk parking without consequences. But it’s still violating traffic laws.
It is illegal for motorcycles to park on any sidewalk. This can be the sidewalk leading up to the grocery store or the sidewalk by the road. Or even a sidewalk in your neighborhood.
The rules of the road say it is illegal for a car to park on the sidewalk. So, the same goes for your bike. You must park motorcycles in regular parking spots like car parks, just like cars (even a small car) and other vehicles.
You will get a parking ticket if a police officer catches your sidewalk parking. Moreover, parking your vehicle or motorcycle on a sidewalk will hinder traffic movement. That holds for partially or fully blocking the sidewalk.
Blocking the path also causes inconvenience to the visually impaired. And also other pedestrian traffic using strollers and wheelchairs. Additionally, your bike could get damaged if a passerby knocks it down.
The only exception for parking a motorcycle on the sidewalk is on private property. But even then, you must get permission from the owner of the particular area.
Some examples of states with motorcycle parking laws related to sidewalk parking
In California, the California Vehicle Code section 22500 prohibits all motor vehicles from parking on the sidewalk. This includes motorcycles. Some California towns and cities, such as San Francisco, can be lax about enforcing this rule. But it is still illegal.
And when parking on a California street, motorcyclists must park their vehicles so that one wheel is touching the right-hand curb.
In Virginia, motorcycles cannot park at bike racks or on public sidewalks and in green spaces. This rule applies unless designated otherwise with signage. You also cannot park them in an area that blocks building access. Or inside residence halls and other University buildings.
In Florida, under Florida statute 316.1945, you cannot stop, stand, or park a motorcycle on a sidewalk. An exception to the rule is if a traffic control officer/device tells you to do so to “avoid conflict with other drivers.”
In New York, state law says that bike owners may not park or operate their motorcycles on the sidewalk for any reason. Doing so will mean the city police will make you pay a fine.
Where can you park your motorcycle safely?
If you need to park your motorcycle, the right thing is to look for a public place where it’s legal to do so. You can try the following places.
You can park it at private parking garages that operate a parking business. These places often come with extra facilities. They include security cameras, storage shelves, a place to wash your bike or change a tire, and more. Some also offer long-term parking.
You can also park your motorbike in the usual car parking lots. This is legal for all vehicles, including motorcycles. You can also share the space with a fellow rider. But do park correctly so that an approaching car will know that the parking space is occupied.
A lot of businesses also have a parking place just for motorcycles. And they’re usually really close to the entrance.
Of course, do remember to park in such a way that there is enough space for other vehicles around your bike to pass by safely.
Motorcycle parking etiquette
As a motorcycle owner, you should know where to park your ride. Many motorcycle riders tend to have the wrong notion that it’s okay to park almost anywhere. This is just because it’s easy to do so. After all, how much space can a motorcycle take up? But this is the wrong idea.
Even in a parking lot, you can only park in some places. Many motorcyclists end up parking on striped lines in parking lots. This is illegal and also rude. These lines state that the area should be used for handicap accessibility.
So, unless you come under that category, it is illegal and rude to park there. It is also not polite to park too near it without leaving enough room for them to move. Parking enforcement officers will not take to it kindly.
You should also not use metered parking with time limits if you don’t want to pay. Some motorcyclists think that it’s okay to park between two cars and not pay for the metered spot. But this is incorrect.
As a general rule, motor vehicle owners have to pay the parking rate if they park in a place with a meter maid. It doesn’t matter how big or small the motor vehicle is. Additionally, illegal parking between two cars may obstruct the cars’ passageway.
Keeping your parked motorcycle safe from harm
Many motorcyclists park on sidewalks or other forbidden places to protect their ride. This does seem like common sense sometimes. Motorcycles are smaller and easier to damage. And people on the road tend to be less aware of bikes or are not on the lookout for one.
Moreover, sometimes, car drivers can even get upset when a motorcycle takes up a whole parking space that can fit a car. Luckily, as long as you have parked legally, you can make sure it’s safe from harm.
First, while parking, do not pull your bike all the way into a parking spot. That is unless you are sharing it with another motorcycle. Park your bike just far enough into the parking spot so that you are within the lines.
But at the same time, other drivers can spot the bike. That way, they know that someone else is using the parking space.
Second, if you are parking in a public place, it is a good idea to put a motorcycle lock on your bike. These locks are not expensive and can keep your bike from being stolen or moved. Some locks are for locking the front wheel rim, while others lock the back wheel.
They can also come with alarms to alert you if someone moves the bike.
Additionally, when street parking a motorcycle, ensure that the back tire makes contact with the curb. And in the case of sharing parking space (mainly parallel parking), let the rear tire make an angle with the curb. That way, you can get out with ease.
Many motorcycle drivers, without meaning to, park in illegal places, such as sidewalks. While it is often an honest mistake, law enforcement may not see it that way.
So, as responsible riders, it is good for us all to know where we can and cannot park. That way, we stay out of trouble, and our bikes are also safe from harm. The last thing anyone needs is worrying about our bikes’ safety while we are out on a fun road trip.