We’ve had several folks contact us recently with questions about parking a motorscooter on the sidewalk in Richmond, Virginia, and thought it best to try to explain the complexities of a seemingly simple question.
When it comes to scooters without license plates such as the Buddy 50 or Roughhouse 50, they are generally considered to be the same as bicycles when it comes to parking. That means that you can generally park on the sidewalk as long as you follow the tips noted 2 paragraphs down.
The law in Richmond (and the rest of the state, as far as we are aware) states that you cannot park a motor vehicle on the sidewalk. That particular law generally uses the phrase “motor vehicle” to constitute a vehicle that has license plates on it, such as a car, truck, motorcycle, or motorscooter with an engine that is larger than 50cc (and therefore has a license plate). Therefore, if you had a Buddy 125 or a Vespa GTS or some other larger scooter (one with license plates), then it is a ticketable offense to park on the sidewalk.
If you park your scooter on the sidewalk, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Make sure that you are not blocking ANY sidewalks or pedestrian paths. This includes parking on a sidewalk and obstructing the pedestrian path to a public use area such as a bus stop, fire lane/fire hydrant, or other related area. We don’t recommend parking and locking to a sign that specifies “No Parking”, as that just seems to be trouble waiting to happen. Be sure not to lock to anything that is private property, and that includes fences and gates around businesses and residences. And last but not least, do not ride your scooter on the sidewalk in order to get to the place that you plan on parking. That is definitely not legal, and incredibly dangerous for pedestrians. Stop before you ride on the sidewalk, turn your scooter off, and push it to the parking space.
In real life, most scooters with license plates that park on the sidewalk do not get ticketed. You’re really only at risk to get a ticket if you park a scooter with a license plate on the sidewalk in an area where there is significant parking policing happening. That means that you can get into trouble in the downtown region (and anywhere else that the third party parking patrol is active) as well as at VCU/MCV, but most places do not give you trouble for parking on the sidewalk. This only remains true as long as you don’t do any of the dumb stuff noted above, such as block the sidewalk, lock your scooter to private property, etc etc.
The lack of a license plate on a 49cc scooter means that the potential ticketer has no idea who the vehicle belongs to, and therefore there is no responsible party to ticket. That’s one of the reasons why it is important to not ride on the sidewalk. It’s also why it is important not to block the sidewalk or park and lock to private property. If you do that on a scooter that has a tag, you will get a ticket. If you do those things on a scooter without a tag, the police may cut your lock and tow your scooter! You may come out for your next ride to find that your scooter appears to have been stolen, when in reality it has been towed (sad trombone).
Considering that scooters are at a high theft risk and that you absolutely must lock your scooter to a stationary object in order to still have a scooter when you come back, parking on the street may be legal but it definitely isn’t safe!
We have heard rumors of some folks with larger than 50cc scooters using velcro to affix the license plate. When parking the tagged scooter on the sidewalk, they simply remove their license plate and take it with them. This is of course not entirely legal.
It is unfortunate that Richmond scooterists are faced with the option of doing something slightly illegal (parking on the sidewalk or parking on the sidewalk with license plate removal) to keep someone else from doing something that is mega-illegal (stealing your scooter)! We are hopeful that the regulations will change to reflect the current conditions, but for the time being it helps to know what is OK and not OK.