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Parking your scoot on the streets of NYC
Posted by: Martin
10 April 2009 24,752 views 18 Comments

header noparking Parking your scoot on the streets of NYC

If you’re new to scootering in New York then, unfortunatley, you have a lot to learn about parking.

Spend five minutes in conversation with any New York City scooterist, and you’ll quickly learn that parking a scooter safely and securely on the streets of the Big Apple doesn’t always go nicely hand-in-hand with parking legally.

Let’s get one thing squared away. In the eyes of the NYPD Traffic Department – there is only one legal way to park a scooter or motorcycle on the street in the five boroughs: On the street.

The danger in doing this? Returning to find your scoot the victim of theft; a much larger vehicle’s bumper. Or worse – its back wheels.

With the amount of discussion dedicated to the subject of parking around local websites, we felt it would be helpful to summarize some of the key points that will arm you with what you need to know before you make your decision where and how to park. We’ll offer pointers whether you choose to risk damage and park on the street, or risk towing and park on the sidewalk.

First off…

Parking on the street

Parking on the street is the only way to go if you want to keep it legit. But it’s still not that simple. The right to park in metered areas is fuzzy to say the least. 9 times out of 10 you’ll be parking between parked vehicles. And provided you’re backed into the curb, you’re occupying a slither of a spot that can be argued to be between two parking “spaces” and be left well-alone.

The spirit of NYC parking law however is that if you park in a metered area you are responsible for paying for the right to park, not for the right to a specific space.

For the most part, NYC scooterists do park “between spaces” with little risk of a ticket, but as the law above implies, some have been known to be stuck with a failure-to-pay-the-meter ticket by over-zealous parking agents. If this happens to you it’s certainly worth appealing because for the most part, it’s demonstrated that this will typically get thrown out in court.

From a scooter-preservation perspective. Think carefully about where you park. Your best bet is to park in the end “spot” between the last parked car and the junction. And park it in those spots where the vehicle is facing the junction. That way you’re at least guaranteeing that the vehicle owner can’t claim to not see your bike as they leave the spot.

As is implied above, avoid parking behind vehicles – particularly large ones. And don’t sandwich your bike between two parked cars where there is limited space. If you know you’re not leaving the vehicles enough room to exit, you know that they’ll see your scoot as a temporary obstacle to their leaving.

Finally try to locate a low turnover parking area. Even if you choose a great spot to park. It’s no guarantee that the nearest vehicle will be your only neighbor during your stay.

Our tip, for what it’s worth: Try and park next to the nicest vehicle you can find. A graffiti festooned mini van driver isn’t going to give a crap about rolling out of his spot over your scoot, but a waxed Jaguar owner may think differently about scuffing their pride and joy.

Parking in a parking garage

While you may have made arrangements at your local neighborhood lot for scooter storage (good luck with that negotiation,) your chances of parking in a typical Manhattan parking garage are slim to none. The reason? Most garages aren’t insured to store two-wheeled vehicles so they’d rather not go to the trouble of accommodating you. Which brings us swiftly on to:

Parking on the sidewalk

Most of the scooterists we talk to feel this is the way to go. Yes it’s illegal, but it is unevenly enforced and it’s generally a lot safer for the well-being of your bike (unless it’s unceremoniously towed to the pound) but you’re also risking a fine.

The first trick to parking on the sidewalk? Removing your license plate. Why? So the traffic cops have no immediate way of identifying your vehicle, even if they are hungry to write you a ticket.

This used to be the tried-and-true trick. However, some parking cops, particularly those operating in high-volume areas like Midtown Manhattan are also armed with scanners that can identify your vehicle by it’s VIN number. So next, you need to think carefully about obscuring your VIN number. Don’t high-profile cover it with tape or something. That’s also considered illegal. But a dab of grease should deter most traffic cops’ manicures and render their scanner useless.

If you do get a ticket pulled from your VIN number, Jonathan over at the NY Scooter Club Forum has some sage advice.

Finally, in recent years there have been periods of crack-downs on bikes without plates being treated as abandoned vehicles and towed. But again, it’s unevenly enforced and comes down to which side of the bed your local traffic cop got out of that morning.

So what can you do?

Well for starters, in addition to removing your plate and keeping your VIN on the down-low, keep your scoot as inconspicuous as possible. It’s always better to cover your bike with a scooter cover to blend it in with the surroundings. This also creates extra effort for any cops who want to ID your scoot.

Park as close to the curb as possible, rather than close to the building. Don’t block building entrances, or loading areas. Definitely don’t park in areas like bus stops. And avoid buildings with doorman attendance. You’re just providing them with quarry to bring meaning to their day. Finally, anywhere with an abundance of traffic meters means that a traffic cop will never be far away.

Additionally, much as we like to support our fellow scooterists. Park your scoot away from others. The last thing you want to create in the eyes of a traffic cop is a loosely formed scooter parking lot.

Finally, lock it up. Not just against theft. But as a deterrent against towing. Lock your steering column. Lock your wheel. And chain your bike to an immovable object.

Oh boy. Good luck!

In 2007, Piaggio sponsored a free-parking program in the Summer of 2007 but it didn’t repeat in 2008. Time will tell if they’ll explore it again this year. Other cities have begun to explore free parking city wide for two-wheeled vehichles. Not so, New York City. Until then? Good luck out there, and let us know your parking tips, and cherished spots.

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18 Comments »

  • Stevo said:

    Man. I was thinking of buying a scooter to commute to midtown daily. Do you (or anyone) have any tips where to park?

    My work is in the East 50s by Park Avenue.

  • NYC Scootering said:

    The further East you can park the better. I think you’re going to be out of luck parking around “Park” or even Lexington but if you can stomach a couple of blocks walk as part of your commute, aim for somewhere around 1st or 2nd Avenue.

    Good luck, and let us now how you get on. Welcome to the site.

  • Steve Herman said:

    Hey there,

    You might want to add a blurb about the ‘obscured’ No Covered Vehicle’ law. I was hit with two $65 parking tickets for covering my vespa. As with most people, I have never heard of such a lame law but it does exist. Check out my webpage. http://www.slhgraphics.com/parkingViolation.html

    n addition to fighting the tickets, I have also contacted three senators about addressing the lame motorcycle situation in NYC. My web page is for that purpose.

    The link below is the only site that I could find that knew about this lame-ass law:
    http://www.parkingnow.org/home/tickets

  • gregory said:

    Hi, I parked my covered ’64 VBB on the sidewalk and was ticketed for no plates since i am working on it, as it does not run yet. Also, a ticket for parking on a sidewalk. As stated above, scooters have to be on the sidewalk since the chain lock needs to be around a pole, lamppost etc… The officer wrote “Piaggio” on ticket as the make, but it is a Vespa. He did not write any other info about the scooter. No VIN #, nothing. Any suggestions?

    thanks!

  • Wang said:

    Why don’t you losers try obeying the law?

  • suseesue said:

    Wang – I guess the point is that the laws are not clear in NYC, or consistently implemented. What NY needs is dedicated motorcycle parking like San Francisco.

  • Laura said:

    This has been pretty educational, but I’m wondering where the best place to buy all the necessary locks is, also what the best anti-theft device is. Also, is it more time and cost effective to scooter rather than train/subway? And I’m not looking for a response from a ‘wang’.

  • NYC Scootering said:

    Most of the local dealers carry locks. Ideally you secure your bike to a fixed item like a post or steel fence, but much of the time this is not possible. We’ve reviewed the Grip-Lock and found it to help as a visual deterrent.

    Most riders agree that simply covering your scoot reduce the likelihood of anyone tampering with your bike, even if you’re just trying to avoid teenagers and drunks (or even teenage drunks) messing with the bike while you’re not around.

    I personally find scooting in from the outer boroughs comparable to a subway ride time-wise, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun. Cross-town trips and short hops in Manhattan however are much faster by scooter. Once you get comfortable with your bike you’ll also see the possibilities in taking in it much further afield for day and weekend trips.

    Money wise you definitely need to factor in gas and insurance and I’ve honestly never sat down and worked the numbers but expect to pay $3-400 per year in insurance, another $100 per year in registration and other fees and anywhere from $2-$8 in gas a week depending on how short or long your commute is.

  • dany said:

    Hello!

    I’m coming 5 days in NYC from Quebec City by scooter, Vespa GT200, 2006. I’ll stay in an apartment on E. 53rd street, corner of 3rd.

    What are your suggestions as a canadian scooterist with a “quebec” plate… can they recognize a VIN from a canadian scooter?

    What do you think of them: http://www.nymparking.com/

    Is it a good idea to park with the bikes like here:
    http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=fr&geocode=&q=53th+east+street,+new+york+city&aq=&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=26.011816,77.167969&ie=UTF8&hq=53th+east+street,&hnear=New+York,+%C3%89tat+de+New+York,+%C3%89tats-Unis&ll=40.757278,-73.968394&spn=0.003519,0.00942&z=17&layer=c&cbll=40.757124,-73.968023&panoid=LkiXHNnw1pjbDcQvMOxgsg&cbp=12,32.1,,0,14.02

    Many thanks!!!

  • nycscootering said:

    Dany,

    If you’re staying in the 50s over by 3rd Avenue you should be good just to use residential street parking which off the top of my head starts at about 3rd Avenue and is good east all the way to the East river. At worst you may want to park one or two blocks east to be in a residential area.

    Generally it’s alternate side of the street for street cleaning so you may need to move your bike daily but you’ll be good to park it on the street without worrying about meters.

    Leave your plates on, you’ll cause more problems if they read your VIN.

    While we have interviewed NYMParking here in NY, I haven’t personally used them so I can’t speak specifics.

    Enjoy your stay in the Big Apple and good luck and safe riding!

  • Augusto said:

    Hi!

    I’m gonna start working in Rockefeller Center and I was planning on buying a scooter for work. I was completely decided, but then the parking issue has scared me a little bit. I was checking on Street View and did not see much scooters around. However, saw a lot of potential places in the street. It seemed (at least to me) that parking in the street is easier, but then I read most park on the sidewalk. What do you think? Is it easier to get ticketed/towed if parked on the street (and not feeding any meter) or on the sidewalk?

    Given the area, do you think it really makes sense for me to buy a scooter and have it parked there all day? How about sleaking some dollars to the people at a garage to have it parked in front or something like that?

    Thanks!

  • Paul said:

    Augusto – welcome to the world of scootering in NYC. Personally I don’t recommend parking on the sidewalk in Midtown, the cops and meter maids are much more vigilant in that part of Manhattan.

    There are scooters and motorcycles regularly parked in the area, though the massive amount of metered parking means that most riders remove their plates.

    My nearest recommendation to Rockerfeller Center is to park on Vanderbilt at 47th Street (Just north of Grand Central.) By Midtown standards it’s a side street with very little through traffic. It’s a popular parking spot for riders but even there you’ll need to pull your plates or risk a ticket. For the most part this street is left alone by parking attendants but they do crack down periodically.

    Don’t let the parking intimidate you. Once you find a couple of “go-to” spots you’ll be parking in the area without issue.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.

  • Augusto said:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the info! So what you say is that if for example I park on 48th between 6th and 5th I have a high risk of getting ticketed or towed (even removing the plates of course)?

    Another maybe silly question: what about winter? I guess it would be kind of dangerous to ride in the snow, right? I’m looking at a Vespa GTS 300. In any case, I would have to look for storage or is OK for the bike to be parked outside?

    Thanks for everything man, I’m super excited to get a scooter in the city, seriously!

    Best,

    Augusto

  • AR said:

    It’s ridiculous that it is such a hassle to park scooters in NYC. It’s as if they want to discourage people from buying/owning scooters. I would think the government would want to encourage 2-wheeled transportation, whether carbon-free or not. What a stupid city we live in. NYC is so backwards in many ways.

    The scooter dealers should actively press the city to make 2-wheeler parking easy/free. I imagine it would definitely help their sales. I am totally ready to buy a scooter but this parking issue may deter me from doing so.

  • Javier said:

    I have been driving my 2010 Honda Elite to work in Midtown Manhattan for the past month. I have been parking in a garage about half a mile away from my office, but have also been scouting street areas where I could park and stop paying the garage. Here are my findings:

    –> Vanderbilt between 45 and 46; a sexy pink Vespa is always parked in the area and sometimes enjoys the company of one or two more scooters.

    –> 45 through 49 streets between 2nd and Lex (including 3rd); while these spots are sporadic (e.g., next to the Rafiqi’s food truck on 47)it is an area where you will find scooters parked both on the sidewalk and in metered areas – in all cases without thier license plates, of course. Some parking areas here are reserved for diplomats only, so beware.

    –> 43 through 49 streets between 10th and 9th avenue – same story as above. This is way far from most office, but thought I’d mention it in case it is useful.

    Stay safe NY!

  • Sue said:

    Hi Everyone

    Thanks for the great information, I’m about to pull the trigger on a scooter as well. I live on the UWS and would like to go through Central Park at 830am, though it’s open to HOV is it ok to be on a scooter? Also would you anyone know a garage I could use? My office is at 53rd and Madison but I can walk too and was thinking this might give me the most peace of mind.

    Thanks so much!

    Sue

  • The Parking Situation, « roxyvespa said:

    [...] York, http://www.nycscootering.com/2009/04/10/parking-your-scoot-on-the-streets-of-nyc/, and Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a [...]

  • Ravi Jay // @nycmixing said:

    I’m a little confused cause the DMV was listing, sidewalk and chaining to a tree as an advantage of buying a scooter. Also going through bridges and tunnels, I heard you can’t do this with a motorcycle permit. Does a rider with a motorcycle permit, riding a scooter, need a supervised rider next to them?

    Thanks.

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