Sidewalk Parking

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.

19 Comments on “Sidewalk Parking

  1. I don’t live in the metro area so I don’t run into the same parking issues as other folks. It is *definitely* more difficult to find something to lock a scooter to that isn’t private property in the counties. I try to find business areas that aren’t occupied to lock in front of. My priority is not blocking pedestrian traffic. When everyone seems to be walking by me nonchalantly as I’m pulling out my chain it’s a good sign. There are always going to be property owners who lease the business property who give you a hard time. If they’re decent folks, they’ll ask you not to park there before they call the cops on you. I move as soon as I’m asked and haven’t gotten a ticked yet. Of course then I have to remember which sidewalks they don’t want me to park on, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.

  2. The law is the law everywhere, Please obey the law for the safety of others. Removing plates is downright dirty and definitely illegal. I have seen over 50CC traveling about town without license plates which hurts those who chose to obey the law. There is enough illegal parking going on , please do add to the problem. And Scoot Richmond, please don’t encourage breaking of laws. Lobby to get more scooter racks and place that scooters with licenses can safely park. Breaking existing laws hurts us all.

  3. Apologies for our delayed response. We’ve been very busy over the past few days and find ourselves playing a bit of catch-up.

    To address your comments: We do not condone breaking laws in regards to parking. We are merely trying to offer information on what we are aware is going on in Richmond.

    Mid-sized scooters are larger than 50cc and do require a license plate but are still small and light and very easy to steal. If you park that scooter on a Richmond City street, there is often no structure to lock that vehicle to something. A scooter that is not locked to something is a target for theft. That leaves the mid-sized scooter owner with a choice of parking illegally on the sidewalk with their tag on the scooter, and potentially getting a parking ticket, or parking their scooter legally and facing the very real possibility of having their scooter stolen. Personally, I’d go with parking on the sidewalk with plates on my scooter and knowing that there is a risk that I may get a ticket versus the far greater evil of having my scooter stolen.

    We have been working with some folks from the City of Richmond in order to establish a system of safe and legal parking for scooters (and motorcycles and mopeds as well), but it’s still a work in progress. I am very hopeful that something will be in place with a test parking area or two established in the very near future, but obviously working with the City on a project like that takes some time.

    People constantly come into our shop inquiring about riding scooters with an engine that is larger than 50cc with no tags. Constantly. We absolutely under no circumstances think that that is acceptable. Fortunately the police have really stepped up their enforcement of pulling folks over that are traveling faster than 35mph. Perhaps the biggest contributor to that problem are those people that purchase Chinese scooters off of the internet. With no local shop and no enforcement of those online stores actually being licensed to sell motorvehicles in Virginia, it makes it easy for folks to claim ignorance about the necessary licensing.

    Thanks, and please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or comments.

  4. great news! our friends at the city of richmond are ready to move forward in the designation of parking areas for 2 wheelers. please let me know if you have any specific suggestions in regards to potential locations. email us: info (at) scootrichmond dot com. thanks!

  5. Chelsea: Any chance one of those “designated parking areas” will reside on the VCU/MCV campus?

  6. Unfortunately the city has no say in the locations that VCU/MCV chooses for scooters, but we’re trying to make progress with them too. 🙂

  7. I was in Paris for a week late last year. Three observations:

    1. Many, many scooters.

    2. Many scooters parked where we’d never allow them (but it’s different country — and different continent).

    3. Many motorcycle/scooter designated parking areas. Sometimes along the curb instead of car parallel parking. Other locations carved out of traffic islands. This is what caught my eye and what relates to communities in the U.S. Those parking areas are what makes the process of integrating two-wheel transportation into the community really work.

  8. I support police enforcement of laws curbing reckless and dangerous behavior, but RPD seems to have a widely varying policy on law enforcement in the city and lens toward the low hanging fruit. They’ll ticket a scooter doing more than 35 mph but can’t manage to ticket a driver/car owner involved in a hit and run with an uninsured vehicle (true story), or solve the majority of the hit and runs, or even ticket the numerous red light violations each day. Again, low hanging fruit may be easy to net, but doesn’t help any of us live in a safer city.

  9. Well, I have found that cops find scooters easy targets. Maybe if gasoline hits over $5.00 a gallon, and the police have to park their ride and walk a beat we would see a different outcome. The ticket police in Richmond are now riding scooters, so maybe they will have a heart and not target so many scooters. Maybe they will even watch for more thefts. Maybe they will put all the police downtown on scooters to save money. Maybe they will buy them from Scoot Richmond!!!!!!

  10. Re: Chelsea and Larry,
    Yes, I was in Italy and Germany a few years ago and it’s the same there. Thin parking slots for scooters and motorcycles along the curb, intermingled with car parallel parking. All over the place, it was wonderful! Would love to see that in Richmond. Also, in regards to paid parking lots, they should have 2 wheeler areas for a third of the price. They take up less than half the space of cars. The parking lots and garages could actually give us a deal “and” increase their income if they do it right. Please Richmond?
    I’ll be checking back here for updates.

  11. I really wish VCU Monroe park campus had some designated motorcycle parking.

    I’ve seen so many bikes get hit and fall over by idiot drivers trying to get out of a parallel parking spot. I’ve been at VCU for 2 years now and have never once brought my motorcycle from my parents garage in Springfield cause I’m afraid of where to park it on campus.

    I’d really like to bring it down to rva next semester though! Please let me know if anything happens here

  12. The fact that VA now requires licensing and registration for… Wait for it… 50cc scooters… Is a complete travesty in it’s self. I think “WhatISRight” may be a little bunched in the panty area and not able make any decisions on their own. Sort of a robot type mentality. I applaud people who remove their license plate, and say more power to them. This country has a RIDICULOUS ammount of unnecessary laws the hinder and harm the general public, rather then help them. Most of these laws based on someones political agenda, and or their wallet, versus doing actual good. Keep in mind though friends, this is simply my 2 cents, and not meant to offend.

  13. We totally get the frustration with unnecessary regulatory burdens, but in this case, it’s an attempt to discourage theft and expediting the recovery of stolen scooters. 50cc scooters will require a tag by July 2014 (that will be a one time fee, similar to a trailer tag), and there is still no motorcycle/drivers license requirement to ride a 50cc. The requirement to have a state recognized I.D. isn’t new. The one time fee for a plate is covering the actual administration related to the necessary time and man power to maintain the records. It also means that if a towing company happens to tow your scoot, they can’t pretend to look for you and then sell your scooter at auction because there is no documentation to follow. If your scoot is stolen and recovered by the police, they will be able to contact you immediately. When a scoot is reported stolen, police will also have a plate number to look for, instead of having to randomly stop an individual riding a scoot that matches the make and model in hopes of randomly finding the bike. DMV has involved us, and others in the Richmond scootering community, in the process of creating these new regulations and we’ve done our best to help them find a way to insure this is the least possible burden to the community with as much positive impact as possible. We are absolutely sympathetic to the degree of suspicion that’s surrounded the new regs, but in this case, we think they’re going to serve the scooter community well, at the least possible burden and cost. This year has been incredibly good in terms of theft, and the new regs can help make that a regular occurrence in Richmond instead of the exception that proves the rule.

  14. Chelsea:
    Now that the 50cc Buddy 50 requires a Tag (Yes – update your Website) does that impact whether you can park your 50cc Scooter on the sidewalk? Are we starting to see Tickets for 50cc scooters parking?

    “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”

  15. Hey there Greg, unfortunately we aren’t sure what this is going to mean in regards to parking. Please let us know if you experience problems with parking your moped!!

  16. I often shop at various strip mall locations. Where can I legally and safely park my large scooter while I shop? At places such as Willow Lawn or Merchant’s Walk? What about if I want to stop for coffee? Do I have to worry about my Vespa getting stolen if it’s not chained to a street sign? I’m concerned about this. Where should I start making noise about the parking problem?

  17. Generally speaking, you can definitely legally park a scooter anyplace that you park a car. It seems crazy to have to use a full car’s worth of a parking space for your scooter, but legally speaking that’s where you are supposed to put it. Since scooters are more at risk for theft in the places that they are left for extended periods of time and in the same place repeatedly, typically a shopping or coffee trip is safe. We recommend adding a small disc brake lock to your safety arsenal for these quick trips (or if your scooter is a Vespa, Vespa makes a factory alarm which is awesome!). Now, in regards to making noise, it seems like your best bet is going to be your city council member. The parking situation is one that will need to be handled locality by locality. Crazy, right? I know. We’re here to help if you decide to go to the mat on this…

  18. I’ve been parking a 50 cc scooter (legally a moped) around VCU Medical Center for a couple years now, before and after plates were required. I park near bike racks, on the sidewalks. No tickets yet. Not parking willy – nilly or in the way probably helps, because the scooter is in the same space as bicycles. I also bike many days (scootering is generally reserved for very hot days or days where I have a more complicated travel plan).

    VCU now has at least a few ‘Scooter Only’ areas on both campuses, so they are acknowledging the existence of scooters. I have no idea if you could park a bigger scooter (non-moped) in those ‘Scooter Only’ areas. There do not seem to be motorcycles parking in those areas, for what that is worth.

    It is worth mentioning that a 50 cc and under scooter is tagged as a ‘MOPED,’ and a motorcycle or larger scooter is tagged differently . . . at least that’s my understanding. We 50 cc people may still be under the radar at least for the time being, since we’re few in number. Or maybe we’re just too cool to be ticketed. That’s probably what it is.

  19. Brian, we’ve heard of folks on non-50cc scooters being ticketed at the VCU scooter only parking racks, specifically the one nearest the art department. However, this all seems to be constantly shifting, which leads me to believe that there is likely to be a specific parking officer or two that really feel compelled to hit up the scoot rack because of personal reasons. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *