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Monday, March 7, 2011

Free motorcycle spaces might ease parking woes

Motorcycle parking is a welcome sign, for some.
Free motorcycle parking might be the ideal way to lessen parking problems in American cities. Motorcycles and scooters take up less room. Encouraging people to ride them by providing designated spaces in the nooks and crannies of parking garages and street corners would leave more room for cars to park elsewhere.

Many American cities do this. But how well is it done?

Hunting for a space Saturday in traffic-packed Miami Beach, Florida, I was discouraged to see this sign: "Motorcycle Parking Only, One Per Meter."

Tiny parking space still costs money.
I didn't check whether the single lonely scooter parked there was being charged less per hour than cars pay (after all, it was taking up only a sliver of curb space). But, whatever it was paying, it was clear that nobody parks for free in Miami Beach.

Think about it: why should a vehicle that takes up no more room than many bicycles be charged anything at all to park? The city clearly is generating revenue; but consider how many additional parking meters it needs to do this; meters that must be purchased, regularly emptied and maintained year-round.

Of course, I am biased, being a motorcycle rider.

Riding along was Matt Starr, my daughter's boyfriend, a parking deprived communications law staffer for Congress. His experience trying to park his car in Washington, D.C. provides a bit different perspective:

"It always frustrates me to find an empty space on the street, only to see it is for motorcycles only," he commented. I am sure this is particularly true in winter, when motorcycle spaces in most of America are bound to be unused.

Miami Beach is another story, of course.

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