WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Seeing Motorcycles as “real” vehicles

By James - 6/9/2006

An incident at dinner last night and some things the president of our club said got me thinking about the public’s perception of motorcycles. Now a lot of attention is given to the public’s perception of “bikers” but I am referring to the motorcycle as a machine and the way it transports us “bikers".

Let me take you back to the incident last night. I pulled into a space in front of a restaruant I was meeting my motorcycle club at last night. It is one of those metered spaces, with the corners marked out. I knew my buddies were coming so I parked right in the middle and dismounted. I stood on the sidewalk and waited for my club.

Not a minute passed and a car tried to squeeze into the spot. I walked up to him and told him that I am saving the spot for my buddies. He acknowledged and took a spin around the block and found another spot.

5 minutes later a woman tries to squeeze into the spot and I walk up to her and tell her through the glass that I am saving the spot for my buddies. She ignores me. When she opens the door I tell her that it is my spot and she has to move. Uh Oh, here it comes . . . She unloaded on me about how she could fit just fine (she was about a foot into the red) and it is not MY space but the city’s and how she is a Christian and she is just going to church and a whole lot of “well why nots” that were irrelevant. I told her that she misunderstood the law. That just irritated her more. She says, “I know the law, I am calling the law!” and dials 911. Long story short, the cops (who have a lot better things to do than handle parking disputes in Oakland) showed up 30 minutes later and made her move. Here in California and probably all of the US a motorcycle is entitled to the same rights as any other motor vehicle. That means parking too. Just because we sometimes park between cars doesn’t mean that we give up our right to take up a whole space if we choose to.

Our president summed it up niceley in our forums:

to me this is another example of people not seeing motorcycles as “real” vehicles. I’ve seen people physically pick up motorcycles so they could take the spot…………….I’ve seen people act like we don’t have the right to park in a parking space. I’ve seen people move their cars toward us when we’re splitting lanes, etc. ………we’ve all dealt with this. Bottom line: Many cagers simply don’t consider bikes to be viable “real” vehicles……….and of course, they are mistaken……………

It is easy for me to forget how motorcycles are marginalized because so many of my friends and family ride. But it is a case like this where you see how most cagers will try to take advantage of a situation if it has to do with a motorcycle. How many times have you seen a car knock a parked car on its side and drive away? But I have seen this done more than a few times to motorcycles, twice to my own ride.

I have heard talk of a day in San Francisco where all the motorcyclists park in car spots, one per stall to show how bad parking would be without motorcycle parking. And San Francisco is a motorcycle friendly city compared to others. That would be one way to put us on cagers’ radar.

Whether or not we can get the public to view us as “real” is something we all have to work on.



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  1. The laws are the same in Denmark.
    legally a motorcycle occupy the same space as a car.
    You hit the nail on the spot. Some cagers freak when we lane split and use parking parking spots.
    Yes, lane splitting is illegal (unless you stay in one lane only, I think, but never mind that).
    But parking in car spots is legal, and in fact illegal not to.

    So Mr.Cager do you want to let me pass you when I’m of no concern to you and it makes no difference? or do you want me to get there first and park in your spot and be a pain in your ass?

    Maybe I should consider starting a park-in-car-spots-day in Copenhagen as well.

    Comment by Jesper - helmethairblog — 6/12/2006 @ 6:52 am

  2. Here in the state of Colorado I have been told by police twice to park in the parking lot (where the cars park). There’s a Walmart in town that most of the bikers will park on the sidewalk (it is very wide) and I was told one day to get off and park like a car. Another time was on the local Air Force base there’s two spots in front of the BX and base police told me to, once again, move and park in proper parking spaces. So now I always park in car spaces and no one gives me hassle. Motorcycles seem well received here. I’m glad they are.

    Comment by Biker Betty — 6/12/2006 @ 9:39 pm

  3. Isn’t it a waste of space for motorcycle to park in a car lot? 3 or 4 bikes can fit in there. Why not dedicated motorcycle lot?

    Also in places where you pay to park it make sense to pay less since a motorcycle consume less real estate.

    Comment by Ken — 6/23/2006 @ 3:12 am

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