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St. Louis Region Needs to Address Parking for Scooters & Motorcycles

April 6, 2006 Bicycling, Parking, Scooters 8 Comments

Last week I did a post where I bemoaned about getting a tow warning from Saint Louis University after I parked my tiny & cute 49cc moped/scooter on the city’s public sidewalk. In doing so I fully expected the debate that followed. Some agreed that SLU should have no control over the sidewalk and that as a society we need to provide parking for motorcycles & scooters. Others agreed SLU had no control over the sidewalk but that the city should have been the one to give me a warning because I shouldn’t have parked on the sidewalk.

I think the debate was healthy and got people more energized for this post on scooter & motorcycle parking. Scooters and motorcycles are a valid means of transportation. Ditto for bicycles. I believe it is important for our region to make at least the urban core friendly to these environmentally friendly methods of transportation by providing appropriate parking. The City of St. Louis along with urban schools like Saint Louis University, Washington University, Webster University (due to Old Post Office Location), and Harris-Stowe University should be having a conversation and taking a pro-active position on parking needs for more efficient modes of transportation.

Here is just a small sample of efforts I found throughout the country:

University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Scooter drivers at UW-Madison will find new, designated parking areas in the heart of campus when the academic year begins, and parking outside of those areas could result in $40 fines, officials say.

The new parking system was created in response to the proliferation of the motorized two-wheelers and the need for scooters to coexist safely with pedestrians on a bustling campus.

“When we had 10 or 100 mopeds on campus, it was fine to have no real rules,” says Rob Kennedy, senior transportation planner. “But now we have 1,000 scooter drivers on campus and, at any one time, 600 are parked on campus.”

In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian-scooter conflicts on campus sidewalks and to improve safety, officials are creating 665 marked moped parking spaces scattered in about 25 areas. Previously, there were about 100 marked scooter parking spaces on campus.

University of Washington, Seattle:

Parking areas for motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds are located throughout campus and are convenient to most buildings. It is a violation to drive any motorized vehicle on sidewalks, pedestrian paths, or the Burke-Gilman Trail. All motorized vehicles that are parked on campus must have a valid permit. However, motorcycles, scooters or mopeds parked in the following areas are subject to citation and impoundment:

• parking stalls sized for cars (except load/unload zones for the time specified).
• inside dormitories or next to buildings (because they create a fire hazard)
• in planted areas or at bicycle racks

University of Florida:

A valid UF motorcycle decal is required to park a motorcycle or scooter on campus. All individuals operating a motorcycle or scooter on campus must abide by UF parking rules and regulations and park in a Motorcycle/Scooter parking area. All members of the UF community are eligible to purchase a motorcycle/scooter decal. An annual decal costs $26 and a semester decal costs $13.

click here to access maps showing motorcycle/scooter parking areas

City of Portland, OR:

Why does Portland care about motorcycling/scootering in the city?
Motorcycles and Motorscooters are a viable source of transportation and The City acknowledges the benefits of supporting the use of them.

Motorcycles and scooters require less parking space than automobiles – four or more motorcycles can occupy the same parking area required by one automobile.

Motorcycles and scooters cause far less damage to roads and a bridge – the average motorcycle weighs less than one-eighth of an automobile, and have less surface area in contact with the roadway.

The newer motorcycles and scooters are more fuel efficient than many automobiles. In the case of scooters, the fuel efficiency benefits are even more pronounced; many scooters deliver upwards of 50 miles per gallon.

Article on City of Philadelphia:

If you zip around the city on a motor scooter, chances are good you’ve gotten ticketed whether or not your bike was parked illegally.

A set of bills introduced by former scooter rider Councilman Frank DiCicco would take the guesswork out of where to leave the stylish motor bikes by replacing some handicapped spots with parking for scooters and other two-wheel motorized bikes.

Each space would accommodate five bikes, would probably be metered and would feature a metal bar or rack for locking the bikes. It’s still unclear exactly how many spots would be designated for scooters.

Last week council gave its unanimous OK for scooter parking, but the measure cannot take effect until council amends and passes a companion bill reducing the number of handicapped parking spaces. (DiCicco will pursue the issue next year; council’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 24.)

A preliminary Philadelphia Parking Authority study found that on any given day a minimum of 40 percent of handicapped spaces in the core of Center City, from Walnut to Arch streets and from river to river, went unused, DiCicco says. That amounts to about 100 spots that could be used for scooters.

Disability advocates have raised concerns about eliminating that many spots so DiCicco now proposes dedicating one handicapped spot on each block for scooters in areas where 50 percent or more of handicapped spaces went unused according to the PPA study.

Petition to get Parking in LA County:

We, the undersigned, as citizens, residents, workers, laborers, shoppers, diners and visitors in the City or County of Los Angeles, demand the creation of safe, secure and free or reasonably priced motorcycle and motor scooter (collectively, Powered Two-Wheel “PTW” vehicles) parking at all parking lots and parking facilities within the City and County of Los Angeles, including but not limited to, privately owned and managed public parking facilities, and all government buildings and offices.

The popularity of motorcycles as a daily form of transportation is skyrocketing. With the substantial increase in gasoline prices, traffic, and congestion, many drivers are parking their cars and SUV’s in favor of PTW vehicles. PTW’s reduce pollution, reduce traffic congestion, reduce parking congestion, and reduce roadway wear and tear. All this results in lower costs to our City and County for roadway repair and maintenance, reduces the need for new roadways, and reduces the need for large parking lots and parking structures – land which could instead be used for more shops and restaurants, parks and green space, or child recreation areas.

So what have we learned?

Well, Madison must rock with over a 1,000 students riding scooters. Time to visit Wisconsin!

I’ve ridden a friend’s scooter in Seattle, another scooter-friendly city. Many areas of Seattle have the pay-n-display parking system where spots are not a predetermined length. In these cases a scooter can park on the street, lock to a sign, take up only the space they need and pay for their time like everyone else. Students of the Univ. of Washington can find designated spots on campus, how thoughtful.

Same with University of Florida, they’ve realized they are a part of life and have taken pro-active steps to accommodate scooters and motorcycles. They are just a bit wiser than SLU and know that by encouraging folks to ride bicycles, scooters or motorcycles the demand on the university to build more parking structures is reduced.

Portland has an entire section of their city’s transportation website devoted to scooters & motorcycles. Smart. They do a great job of encouraging an urban lifestyle. It is nice they have designated scooter & motorcycle parking throughout the city.

I love Philly’s proposal, especially the part about the bar where scooters and small motorcycles can be secured. I’m glad to see they are evaluating how their on-street spaces are getting used and if they can turn wasted spaces into something useful.

And finally Los Angeles. What a mess. I went once when I was in college and will not be upset at all if I never get back there. I’m glad to see those who use scooters & motorcycles in LA pushing for designated spots. If any city needs to reduce auto use and sprawl it is LA.

Once again the folks in charge in our region are not on top of things. They are reactive and go to the negative — discouraging the very efforts that will improve our region. We need to compete on many levels with other regions. We are not, nor will we ever be, a Chicago or New York but we need to work on attracting the people that cities like Seattle, Portland, Madison and Philly are gaining. Parking for small & efficient scooters is a very simple step toward creating a region that will lure additional citizens to our region.

– Steve


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jim Zavist says:

    While I’m not a fan of scooters parking on the sidewalk, I certainly have no problem with creating scooter and/or motorcycle parking spaces, even if it means more rules and regulations. And one way to get things rolling, especially with the development community, would be to allow the substitution of a certain percentage (5%, like the ADA requires for accessible parking?) of the smaller spaces for required larger “standard” spaces. Plus, as was previously pointed out, these spaces could use the odd-shaped parcels that every parking lot seems to have . . .

  2. Jim Zavist says:

    Another thought (unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures) . . . In Denver, the Regional Transit District is experimenting with more-secure motorcycle parking. They take a regular car space and plant a 1′ square x 3′ high concrete post in the middle of the space. Imbedded in the post are two ±1′ diameter (stainless steel?) metal “D” loops connected @ ±1′ and ±2′ above the pavement, sticking out either side (toward the adjacent parking spaces), giving riders an opportunity to secure their rides to something substantial. The post is labeled “motorcycle parking only”, but my guess is that scooters wouldn’t be a problem. The upside is a fairly easy conversion of one car space into two cycle spaces. The downside is it’s not very creative in the use of odd-shaped spaces, plus since it’s in what looks like a car space, the chance still remains that a dim-bulb driver could hit the post and/or the cycles attached to it . . .

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    Final thought – do scooters fit in bike lockers? The RTD and many private businesses are starting to provide them for both daily and casual users, and putting a bike or a scooter behind a locked door keeps it more secure and out of the weather . . .


  4. publiceye says:

    Missouri’s scooter awareness is way behind the places you mentioned: Pennsylvania requires scooters to be registered, inspected, and insured; Wisconsin requires scooters to be titled and registered; and Oregon requires scooters to titled and registered, and their operators to have a scooter endorsement.

  5. Brian says:

    Steve, you rock the Casbah!
    Scooters are gaining popularity in StL every day, and while they may be largely “off the radar” for now, soon the day will come when you can’t go down to the post office or grocery store without spotting a few.

    I’m surprised you haven’t found it yet, of it you have that you haven’t mentioned it before.
    check out http://www.ridetowork.org
    it’s an organization / site started by Aerostitch/Riderwearhouse owner & founder Andy Goldfien.
    Andy has long been a supporter of the use of motorcycles and scooters as daily transportation and the inclusion of them in urban planning.

    His web site has statistical information from credible sources, and even media info/handouts/fliers to distribute. there’s even a downloadable template for road/parking lot crews to use when painting the lines for motorcycle-specific areas.

    St. Louis needs to look forward and plan ahead, before things like this boil over into serious problems that will only reflect poorly on the 2-wheel community as a whole.

    It doesn’t even need to mean sweeping changes all at once. It could be as simple as a “pilot” program of providing specific parking or alternaties at “scooter popular” areas of the city – ie. Washington Ave., S Grand, Loop, Landing, etc. and spead from there.

    Also, I think a lot of people simply have a lot of misconceptions over what a “scooter” is. Many would probably think of those damned pocket-bike things or those motorized skateboard contraptions.

    I submit that it’s high-time for a formalized club in the area AND a scooter rally!

    Diane and I just came from the “WKRP” rally in Cincinnati, and it was simply too cool for words. over 200 scooters and 300+ people.

    StL needs this!
    Ride safe brother,

  6. Steve,

    You are the true advocate for the oppressed urbanist. This city owns you a great debt, as you leave no stone unturned!

    Thanks man!

    [REPLY No, thank you. I think you’ve hit on a good name for a blog, The Oppressed Urbanist! – SLP]

  7. Claire Nowak-Boyd says:

    Yeah, you would definitely enjoy buzzing around Madison in your scooter. They are VERY common there, and the majority of them are red.

    In regards to more scooter parking in StL, you’re right, we definitely need more!

  8. Rich says:

    I live in the Central West End and I just bought a new 49 cc scooter. It is alot of fun and well worth the money I paid for it. I was trying to find out if it legal or otherwise to park on a sidewalk or to lock your bike on a public sidewalk.

    I also wanted to thank you for your hard work with the parking situations. There is a parking space marked “motorcycles only” at my job but no covered parking or special parking for it. I can not park in the garage at work as I don’t trust other drivers and security isn’t always the best. So, I end up being stuck parking it out in the weather. St Louis does really need to work on the parking situations for scooters as I’m noticing more and more on the roads.

    thanks again


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