Traffic is the bane of all commuters, and once you reach your destination you have to park. In most parts of the world, motorcycles and scooters are what many people turn to in order to make the commute faster, easier, and cheaper. The U.S. is not most parts of the world, but were getting better.
When a commuter rides to work on his/her motorcycle, they accomplish several things. They make the highways and streets less congested, because they take up less space. Their lighter vehicles do less damage to the road surface. And when they park, they take up less parking spacesometimes.
Its that parking aspect that some communities have taken to improve by designating certain parking areas specifically for motorcycles. And yet, in other communities, its almost as if they want to discourage people from riding. Thats how different the laws are.
Lets say youre making your commute on your slim, light, Suzuki GSX-R600. If you work in Edmonton, WA, you can park alongside a lot of other bikes in special, no-charge areas. Not only do you save the money you would otherwise pay to park, but with six or more bikes fitting easily into the space one car would use, youre helping other motorists find their parking spaces more easily.
In other cities, however, you would face an entirely different proposition parking your bike. Some cities require all vehicles to park parallel to the curb in areas designated for parallel parking. That might leave you with room for only two bikes is that space, and thats if the city allows more than one vehicle per parking space. Some do not, even when youre talking motorcycles.
The absurdity of that mandate was demonstrated a couple years ago when one city police department started coming down hard on bikes they considered improperly parked. The bikers banded together and appealed to the city to change their rules but no relief was provided. So a plan was hatched. Early one morning, before most commuters were arriving at work, several hundred motorcyclists came in very early and parked one bike to a parking space all over the downtown area. As far as you could see there were acres of unused space between these solitary motorcycles but nowhere at all for people in cars to park. The city quickly changed its ordinances.
While some four-wheeled motorists might complain that it is unfair for motorcyclists to get preferential parking, the fact is, designated motorcycle parking can be created using curb space that is currently going unused. In Denver the citys traffic department was hard at work on a designated motorcycle parking plan when the recession hit. Although it would have cost very little, with budgets in deficit, any non-essential costs were eliminated and the project stalled before it got off the ground.
Nevertheless, the department was working on an eminently sensible plan. City blocks are frequently marked with paint to designate parking spaces, but often there is not enough room near the corners for another space, even though safety research might show that parking would be OK closer to the corner. Voila. Put a little paint on the asphalt and designate this space for motorcycles. Its just that simple. Now commuters who own motorcycles are encouraged to ride rather than drive because they have convenient, free parking, and that helps everyone else in cars. Its a win-win. Plus, motorists who see motorcyclists getting such a nice benefit might decide its time for them to buy that bike theyve wanted for so long and start riding to work, too.